Proteomics of natural substrates of PMN and macrophage proteases in inflammation

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a serious lung disease that is predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2020. It is marked by inflammation of the airways. Currently, there is no efficient drug for treatment for this disease. A promising area of COPD research is focused on matrix metalloproteases (MMP), a family of proteins that digest or cut other proteins (known as substrates) into smaller pieces. These cleavages modify the biological functions of the substrate. MMPs are implicated in many inflammatory diseases, including COPD. Dr. Alain Doucet is studying how two specific MMPs, MMP-8 and MMP-12, contribute to the development of COPD. He is conducting studies to validate his hypothesis that MMP-8 and -12 regulate inflammation by cleaving immune cell mediators such as cytokines, chemokines and their cellular receptors. He is conducting a proteomic identification of MMP-8 and -12 biological substrates and assessing the effect of the substrate cleavage on its biological activity. This work could lead to identification of new, more refined targets for COPD treatment. The identification of MMP-8 and -12 biological substrates will indicate their cleavage specificity and will help in the design of more specific inhibitors. Anti-inflammatory drugs developed for COPD treatment also have the potential to be applied to other inflammatory-associated diseases, such as cancer and arthritis.