Kallikrein-mediated proteolysis regulates the antimicrobial effects of cathelicidins in skin

Kenshi Yamasaki, Jürgen Schauber, Alvin Coda, Henry Lin, Robert A. Dorschner, Norman M. Schechter, Chrystelle Bonnart, Pascal Descargues, Alain Hovnanian, Richard L. Gallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

355 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of cathelicidin antimicrobial peptides provides an important mechanism for prevention of infection against a wide variety of microbial pathogens. The activity of cathelicidin is controlled by enzymatic processing of the proform (hCAP18 in humans) to a mature peptide (LL-37 in human neutrophils). In this study, elements important to the processing of cathelicidin in the skin were examined. Unique cathelicidin peptides distinct from LL-37 were identified in normal skin. Through the use of selective inhibitors, SELDI-TOF-MS, Western blot, and siRNA, the serine proteases stratum corneum tryptic enzyme (SCTE, kallikrein 5) and stratum corneum chymotryptic protease (SCCE, kallikrein 7) were shown to control activation of the human cathelicidin precursor protein hCAP18 and also influence further processing to smaller peptides with alternate biological activity. The importance of this serine protease activity to antimicrobial activity in vivo was illustrated in SPINK5-deficent mice that lack the serine protease inhibitor LEKTI. Epidermal extracts of these animals show a significant increase in antimicrobial activity compared with controls, and immunoabsorption of cathelicidin diminished antimicrobial activity. These observations demonstrate that the balance of proteolytic activity at an epithelial interface will control innate immune defense.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2068-2080
Number of pages13
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Oct
Externally publishedYes


  • Antimicrobial peptide
  • Lympho-epithelial Kazal-type related inhibitor
  • Stratum corneum chymotryptic protease
  • Stratum corneum tryptic enzyme

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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