Human 92- and 72-kilodalton type IV collagenases are elastases

R. M. Senior, G. L. Griffin, C. J. Fliszar, S. D. Shapiro, G. I. Goldberg, H. G. Welgus

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Elastin is critical to the structural integrity of a variety of connective tissues. Only a select group of enzymes has thus far been identified capable of cleaving insoluble elastin. Recently, we observed that human alveolar macrophages secrete elastase activity that is largely inhibited by the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMP). This finding suggested that one or more of the metalloproteinases released by alveolar macrophages has elastase activity. Accordingly, we tested pure human interstitial collagenase, stromelysin, 92-kDa type IV collagenase, and 72-kDa type IV collagenase for elastolytic activity using κ-elastin zymography and insoluble 3H-labeled elastin. The 92- and 72-kDa type IV collagenases were found to be elastolytic in both assay systems. A recombinant preparation of 92-kDa type IV collagenase with gelatinolytic activity was also found to be elastolytic. Organomercurial activation was essential to detect elastolytic activity of the native 92- and 72-kDa type IV collagenases and enhanced the elastase activity of the recombinant 92-kDa enzyme. On a molar basis the recombinant 92-kDa type IV collagenase was approximately 30% as active as human leukocyte elastase in solubilizing 3H-labeled elastin. Exogenously added TIMP in significant molar excess abolished the elastase activity of the 92- and 72-kDa type IV collagenases. Stromelysin and interstitial collagenase showed no significant elastolytic activity, although both were catalytically active against susceptible substrates. Conditioned media from cultures of human mononuclear phagocytes containing the 92-kDa enzyme produced a distinct zone of lysis in the κ-elastin zymograms at this molecular mass. These results definitively extend the spectrum of human proteinases with elastolytic activity to metalloproteinases and suggest the enzymatic basis for elastase activity observed with certain cell types such as human alveolar macrophages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7870-7875
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


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