Secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) is, like its homologue trappin-2 (pre-elafin), a transglutaminase substrate

PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20976. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020976. Epub 2011 Jun 7.


Human lungs contain secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), elafin and its biologically active precursor trappin-2 (pre-elafin). These important low-molecular weight inhibitors are involved in controlling the potentially deleterious proteolytic activities of neutrophil serine proteases including elastase, proteinase 3 and cathepsin G. We have shown previously that trappin-2, and to a lesser extent, elafin can be linked covalently to various extracellular matrix proteins by tissue transglutaminases and remain potent protease inhibitors. SLPI is composed of two distinct domains, each of which is about 40% identical to elafin, but it lacks consensus transglutaminase sequence(s), unlike trappin-2 and elafin. We investigated the actions of type 2 tissue transglutaminase and plasma transglutaminase activated factor XIII on SLPI. It was readily covalently bound to fibronectin or elastin by both transglutaminases but did not compete with trappin-2 cross-linking. Cross-linked SLPI still inhibited its target proteases, elastase and cathepsin G. We have also identified the transglutamination sites within SLPI, elafin and trappin-2 by mass spectrometry analysis of tryptic digests of inhibitors cross-linked to mono-dansyl cadaverin or to a fibronectin-derived glutamine-rich peptide. Most of the reactive lysine and glutamine residues in SLPI are located in its first N-terminal elafin-like domain, while in trappin-2, they are located in both the N-terminal cementoin domain and the elafin moiety. We have also demonstrated that the transglutamination substrate status of the cementoin domain of trappin-2 can be transferred from one protein to another, suggesting that it may provide transglutaminase-dependent attachment properties for engineered proteins. We have thus added to the corpus of knowledge on the biology of these potential therapeutic inhibitors of airway proteases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cadaverine / analogs & derivatives
  • Cadaverine / metabolism
  • Cattle
  • Elafin / chemistry
  • Elafin / metabolism*
  • Factor XIIIa / metabolism
  • Fibronectins / chemistry
  • Fibronectins / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Glutamine
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Lysine
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Glutamine gamma Glutamyltransferase 2
  • Secretory Leukocyte Peptidase Inhibitor / chemistry
  • Secretory Leukocyte Peptidase Inhibitor / metabolism*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid*
  • Transglutaminases / metabolism*


  • Elafin
  • Fibronectins
  • PI3 protein, human
  • Peptide Fragments
  • SLPI protein, human
  • Secretory Leukocyte Peptidase Inhibitor
  • Glutamine
  • Factor XIIIa
  • Protein Glutamine gamma Glutamyltransferase 2
  • Transglutaminases
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • monodansylcadaverine
  • Lysine
  • Cadaverine