Proteases, cystic fibrosis and the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC)

Cell Tissue Res. 2013 Feb;351(2):309-23. doi: 10.1007/s00441-012-1439-z. Epub 2012 May 22.


Proteases perform a diverse array of biological functions. From simple peptide digestion for nutrient absorption to complex signaling cascades, proteases are found in organisms from prokaryotes to humans. In the human airway, proteases are associated with the regulation of the airway surface liquid layer, tissue remodeling, host defense and pathogenic infection and inflammation. A number of proteases are released in the airways under both physiological and pathophysiological states by both the host and invading pathogens. In airway diseases such as cystic fibrosis, proteases have been shown to be associated with increased morbidity and airway disease progression. In this review, we focus on the regulation of proteases and discuss specifically those proteases found in human airways. Attention then shifts to the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC), which is regulated by proteolytic cleavage and that is considered to be an important component of cystic fibrosis disease. Finally, we discuss bacterial proteases, in particular, those of the most prevalent bacterial pathogen found in cystic fibrosis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cystic Fibrosis / enzymology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / metabolism*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology
  • Epithelial Sodium Channels / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / physiology


  • Epithelial Sodium Channels
  • Peptide Hydrolases