Serpin functions in host-pathogen interactions

PeerJ. 2018 Apr 5:6:e4557. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4557. eCollection 2018.


Serpins are a broadly distributed superfamily of protease inhibitors that are present in all kingdoms of life. The acronym, serpin, is derived from their function as potent serine proteases inhibitors. Early studies of serpins focused on their functions in haemostasis since modulating serine proteases activities are essential for coagulation. Additional research has revealed that serpins function in infection and inflammation, by modulating serine and cysteine proteases activities. The aim of this review is to summarize the accumulating findings and current understanding of the functions of serpins in host-pathogen interactions, serving as host defense proteins as well as pathogenic factors. We also discuss the potential crosstalk between host and pathogen serpins. We anticipate that future research will elucidate the therapeutic value of this novel target.

Keywords: Host-pathogen interaction; Infection; Inflammation; Serine protease; Serpin.

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. XDJK2017B002) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31470250, No. 31472151). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.