Recent findings from the clinic and the laboratory have transformed the way proteases and their inhibitors are perceived in the outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis. It now appears that an integrated proteolytic network operates within the epidermis, comprising more than 30 enzymes that carry out a growing list of essential functions. Equally, defective regulation or execution of protease-mediated processes is emerging as a key contributor to diverse human skin pathologies, and in recent years the number of diseases attributable to aberrant proteolytic activity has more than doubled. Here, we survey the different roles of proteases in epidermal homeostasis (from processing enzymes to signalling molecules) and explore the spectrum of rare and common human skin disorders where proteolytic pathways are dysregulated.
Keywords: allergy; differentiation; epidermis; homeostasis; inflammation; keratinocyte.
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