Human granzyme H is a neutral serine protease that is expressed predominantly in the lymphokine-activated killer (LAK)/natural killer (NK) compartment of the immune system. The gene that encodes this granzyme is located between the granzyme B and cathepsin G genes on human chromosome 14q11.2. Although the murine orthologue of human granzyme H has not yet been identified, murine granzymes C, D, E, F, and G also lie between the murine granzyme B and cathepsin G genes on murine chromosome 14; murine granzymes C, D, and F are also highly expressed in LAK cells, but minimally in cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). We therefore tested whether the 5' flanking region of human granzyme H contains the cis-acting DNA sequences necessary to target a reporter gene to the LAK/NK compartment of transgenic mice. A 1.2-kb fragment of 5' flanking human granzyme H sequence was linked to an SV40 large T- antigen (TAg) reporter gene and used to create six transgenic founder lines. SV40 TAg was specifically expressed in the LAK cells of these mice, but not in resting T or NK cells, in CTL, or in any other tissues. Most mice eventually developed a fatal illness characterized massive hepatosplenomegaly and disseminated organ infiltration large malignant lymphocytes. Cell lines derived from splenic tumors were TAg+ and NK1.1+ large granular lymphocytes and displayed variable expression of CD3, CD8, and CD16. Although these cell lines contained perforin and expressed granzymes A, B, C, D, and F, they did not exhibit direct cytotoxicity. Collectively, these results suggest that the 5' flanking sequences of the human granzyme H gene target expression to an NK/T progenitor compartment and to activated NK (LAK) cells. Mice and humans may therefore share a regulatory 'program' for the transcription of NK/LAK specific granzyme genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)963-973
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 1999


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