The host metalloprotease meprin β is required for mucin 2 (MUC2) cleavage, which drives intestinal mucus detachment and prevents bacterial overgrowth. To gain access to the cleavage site in MUC2, meprin β must be proteolytically shed from epithelial cells. Hence, regulation of meprin β shedding and activation is important for physiological and pathophysiological conditions. Here, we demonstrate that meprin β activation and shedding are mutually exclusive events. Employing ex vivo small intestinal organoid and cell culture experiments, we found that ADAM-mediated shedding is restricted to the inactive pro-form of meprin β and is completely inhibited upon its conversion to the active form at the cell surface. This strict regulation of meprin β activity can be overridden by pathogens, as demonstrated for the bacterial protease Arg-gingipain (RgpB). This secreted cysteine protease potently converts membrane-bound meprin β into its active form, impairing meprin β shedding and its function as a mucus-detaching protease.
Keywords: ectodomain shedding; host-microbiome interaction; intestinal mucus barrier; metalloprotease; mucus.
Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.