Mammalian chitinases belong to the glycosyl hydrolase 18 family based on structural homology and the family includes a large number of bacterial and eukaryotic chitinases. Among the mammalian chitinases, chitotriosidase (CHIT1) and acidic mammalian chitinase (AMCase) are capable of hydrolyzing the β-(1, 4)-linkage between the adjacent N-acetyl glucosamine residues of chitin. CHIT1 is one of the most abundantly secreted proteins, being mainly produced by activated macrophages and epithelial cells. CHIT1 plays a pivotal role in the context of infectious disease including malaria and fungi infections as a host defense towards chitin in pathogen's cell structure and as a diagnostic marker of disease. In contrast, CHI1 released by activated Kupffer cells in liver could induce hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis. Increased serum levels of CHIT1 were observed in patients with many disorders, including Gaucher's disease, bronchial asthma, and atherosclerosis. Therefore, CHIT1 seems to have dual (regulatory and pathogenic) roles depending on the disease and producing cell types during the inflammatory conditions.
Sites of inflammation are associated with profound changes in tissue metabolism. Studies and have shown that the activation of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) serves as an adaptive pathway for the resolution of inflammation associated with various murine disease models. The resolution of disease occurs, at least in part, through transcriptional regulation of non-classical epithelial barrier genes. There is significant recent interest in harnessing hypoxia-inducible pathways, including targeting the HIF and the proyl-hydroxylase (PHD) enzymes that stabilize HIF, to promote mucosal healing. Here, we review the signaling pathways involved and define how hypoxia-associated signaling provides mechanistic insight into augmenting barrier function in mucosal inflammatory disease.
The serine protease, furin, is involved in the activation of a number of proteins most notably epithelial sodium channels (ENaC). The urea transporter UT-A1, located in the kidney inner medullary collecting duct (IMCD), is important for urine concentrating ability. UT-A1's amino acid sequence has a consensus furin cleavage site (RSKR) in the N-terminal region. Despite the putative cleavage site, we find that UT-A1, either from the cytosolic or cell surface pool, is not cleaved by furin in CHO cells. This result was further confirmed by an inability of furin to cleave in vitro an (35)S-labeled UT-A1 or the 126 N-terminal UT-A1 fragment. Functionally, mutation of the furin site (R78A, R81A) does not affect UT-A1 urea transport activity. However, deletion of the 81-aa N-terminal portion does not affect UT-A1 cell surface trafficking, but seriously impair UT-A1 urea transport activity. Our results indicate that UT-A1 maturation and activation does not require furin-dependent cleavage. The N-terminal 81-aa fragment is required for proper UT-A1 urea transport activity, but its effect is not through changing UT-A1 membrane trafficking.