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Hypersecretion of mucin plays an important role in the pathophysiology of many inflammatory airway diseases, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, and cystic fibrosis. Myristoylated alanine-rich C-kinase substrate (MARCKS) protein has been shown to play an important role in regulation of airway mucin secretion, as peptides analogous to the amino (N)-terminus of MARCKS attenuate mucin secretion by airway epithelium in vitro and in vivo. Here, we investigated a potential role for the protease Calpain, a calcium-dependent cysteine protease that can cleave MARCKS, in the MARCKS-related secretory mechanism. We theorized that Calpain might cleave MARCKS near the N-terminus, thereby attenuating the ability of MARCKS to bind to membranes and/or creating a small N-terminal peptide that could act as a competitive intracellular inhibitor to remaining endogenous full-length MARCKS molecules. Primary normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells and the virally-transformed human bronchial epithelial HBE1 cell line were exposed to phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA) to stimulate the Protein Kinase C (PKC) pathway, leading to enhanced mucin secretion, and Calpain activity within the cells was measured with a fluorescent cleavage assay. Calpain activity was increased by PMA, and pretreatment of the cells with Calpain inhibitors reduced both Calpain activity and mucin secretion in a concentration-dependent manner. Thus, as opposed to the original hypothesis, inactivating Calpain caused a decrease rather than an increase in secretion. HBE1 cells transfected with DNA constructs encoding a MARCKS-YFP fusion protein showed cleavage at a putative site near the N-terminus in response to PMA. Cleavage of MARCKS by Calpain may have an important role in regulation of the PKC/MARCKS pathway regulating airway mucin secretion. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


W Randall Lampe, Joungjoa Park, Shijing Fang, Anne L Crews, Kenneth B Adler. Calpain and MARCKS protein regulation of airway mucin secretion. Pulmonary pharmacology & therapeutics. 2012 Dec;25(6):427-31

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PMID: 22710197

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