The granular convoluted tubule (GCT) in the duct system of the submandibular gland (SMG) develops preferentially in male mice and produces a number of bioactive peptides including proteases such as renin and kallikrein. We examine the synthesis and localization of the serine (or cysteine) peptidase inhibitor, clade B, member 6a (Serpinb6a), the mouse ortholog of the human intracellular serine protease inhibitor SERPINB6, in the mouse SMG by using reverse transcription plus the polymerase chain reaction, in situ hybridization, immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry. Serpinb6a mRNA expression was more abundant in the male than in the female SMG and in the GCT than in other duct portions or acini. Within GCT cells, immunoreactivity for Serpinb6a was localized in the nucleus and cytosol but was absent in the secretory granules. The binding target of Serpinb6a in the SMG was investigated by using a mass spectrometric analysis of immunoprecipitation products and kallikrein-1-related peptidase b26 (Klk1b26), a serine protease, was identified. These results raise the possibility that Serpinb6a functions in the protection of GCT cells from intracellular kallikreins that may leak from secretory granules.
Keywords: Granular convoluted tubule; Kallikrein; Mouse; Serpin; Submandibular gland.