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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Signaling Regulates Proteoglycan Composition of Mast Cell Secretory Granules

Frisk, Jun Mei Hu; Kjellen, Lena; Melo, Fabio R.; Ohrvik, Helena; Pejler, Gunnar


Mast cells (MCs) are characterized by an abundance of lysosome-like secretory granules filled with immunomodulatory compounds including histamine, cytokines, lysosomal hydrolases, MC-restricted proteases, and serglycin proteoglycans. The latter are essential for promoting the storage of other granule compounds and are built up of the serglycin core protein to which highly sulfated and thereby negatively charged glycosaminoglycan (GAG) side chains of heparin or chondroitin sulfate type are attached. In the search for mechanisms operating in regulating MC granule homeostasis, we here investigated the role of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling. We show that inhibition of MEK1/2 (a MAPK kinase) leads to increased metachromatic staining of MC granules, indicative of increased proteoglycan content. Indeed, MEK1/2 inhibition caused a profound increase in the expression of the gene coding for the serglycin core protein and of genes coding for various enzymes involved in the biosynthesis/sulfation of the GAGs attached to the serglycin core protein. This was accompanied by corresponding increases in the levels of the respective GAGs. Deletion of the serglycin core protein abrogated the induction of enzymes operative in proteoglycan synthesis, indicating that availability of the serglycin proteoglycan core protein has a regulatory function impacting on the expression of the various serglycin-modifying enzymes. MEK1/2 inhibition also caused a substantial increase in the expression of granule-localized, proteoglycan-binding proteases. Altogether, this study identifies a novel role for MAPK signaling in regulating the content of secretory granules in MCs.


mast cells; mitogen-activated protein kinase; MEK1/2; proteoglycans; heparin; chondroitin sulfate; tryptase; serglycin

Published in

Frontiers in Immunology
2018, Volume: 9, article number: 1670

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            Cell and Molecular Biology

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