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, 152 (1), 65-76

An Emerging Role for Serine Protease Inhibitors in T Lymphocyte Immunity and Beyond


An Emerging Role for Serine Protease Inhibitors in T Lymphocyte Immunity and Beyond

Philip G Ashton-Rickardt. Immunol Lett.


Serine proteases control a wide variety of physiological and pathological processes in multi-cellular organisms, including blood clotting, cancer, cell death, osmo-regulation, tissue re-modeling and immunity to infection. T lymphocytes are required for adaptive cell mediated immunity and serine proteases are not only important for effector function but also homeostatic regulation of cell numbers. Serine Protease Inhibitors (Serpins) are the physiological regulators of serine proteases activity. In this review, I will discuss the role of serpins in controlling the recognition of antigen, effector function and homeostatic control of T lymphocytes through the inhibition of physiological serine protease targets. An emerging view of serpins is that they are important promoters of cellular viability through their inhibition of executioner proteases. This will be discussed in the context of the T lymphocyte survival during effector responses and the development and persistence of long-lived memory T cells. The potent anti-apoptotic properties of serpins can also work against adaptive cell immunity by protecting viruses and tumors from eradication by cytotoxic T cells (CTL). Recent insights from knock-out mouse models demonstrate that these serpins also are required for hematological progenitor cells and so are critical for the development of lineages other than T lymphocytes. Given the emerging role of serpins in multiple aspects of lymphocyte immunity and blood development I will review the progress to date in developing new immunotherapeutic approaches based directly on serpins or knowledge gained from identifying their physiologically relevant protease targets.

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