Expression of the human Cathepsin L inhibitor hurpin in mice: Skin alterations and increased carcinogenesis

Markus Walz, Sabine Kellermann, Matilda Bylaite, Birgit Andrée, Ulrich Rüther, Ralf Paus, Jennifer E. Kloepper, Julia Reifenberger, Thomas Ruzicka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The serine protease inhibitor (serpin) hurpin (serpin B13) is a cross class-specific inhibitor of the cysteine protease Cathepsin (Cat) L. Cat L is involved in lysosomal protein degradation, hair follicle morphogenesis, epidermal differentiation and epitope generation of antigens. Hurpin is a 44 kDa protein which is expressed predominantly in epidermal cells. In psoriatic skin samples, hurpin was strongly overexpressed when compared with normal skin. Keratinocytes overexpressing hurpin showed increased resistance towards UVB-induced apoptosis. To further analyse the functional importance of this inhibitor, we have generated transgenic mice with deregulated Cat L activity by expressing human hurpin in addition to the endogenous mouse inhibitor. The three independent transgenic lines generated were characterized by identical effects excluding insertional phenotypes. Macroscopically, mice expressing human hurpin are characterized by abnormal abdominal fur. The number of apoptotic cells and caspase-3 positive cells was reduced after UV-irradiation in transgenic animals compared with wild-type mice. Interestingly, after chemical carcinogenesis, transgenic mice showed an increased susceptibility to develop skin cancer. Array analysis of gene expression revealed distinct differences between wild-type and hurpin-transgenic mice. Among others, differentially expressed genes are related to antigen presentation and angiogenesis. These results suggest an important role of Cat L regulation by hurpin which might be of clinical relevance in human skin diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)715-723
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental dermatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Array analysis
  • Cathepsin L inhibitor
  • Hurpin
  • Skin cancer
  • Transgenic mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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