Human proteinase inhibitor 9 (PI-9/serpinB9) and the murine ortholog, serine proteinase inhibitor 6 (SPI-6/serpinb9) are members of a family of intracellular serine proteinase inhibitors (serpins). PI-9 and SPI-6 expression in immune-privileged cells, APCs, and CTLs protects these cells against the actions of granzyme B, and when expressed in tumor cells or virally infected hepatocytes, confers resistance to killing by CTL and NK cells. The present studies were designed to assess the existence of any correlation between granzyme B activity in intrahepatic lymphocytes and induction of hepatic SPI-6 expression. To this end, SPI-6, PI-9, and serpinB9 homolog expression was examined in response to IFN-α treatment and during in vivo adenoviral infection of the liver. SPI-6 mRNA expression increased 10- to 100-fold in the liver after IFN-α stimulation and during the course of viral infection, whereas no significant up-regulation of SPI-8 and <5-fold increases in other PI-9/serpinB9 homolog mRNAs was observed. Increased SPI-6 gene expression during viral infection correlated with influxes of NK cells and CTL. Moreover, IFN-α-induced up-regulation of hepatocyte SPI-6 mRNA expression was not observed in NK cell-depleted mice. Additional experiments using genetically altered mice either deficient in perforin or unable to process or express granzyme B indicated that SPI-6 is selectively up-regulated in hepatocytes in response to infiltration of the liver by NK cells that express perforin and enzymatically active granzyme B.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy