, Volume 63, Issue 6, pp 709-722
Date: 07 Feb 2006

Neuroserpin: a serpin to think about

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Abstract.

Proteinases and their inhibitors play important roles in neural development, homeostasis and disease. Neuroserpin is a member of the serine proteinase inhibitor (serpin) superfamily that is secreted from the growth cones of neurons and inhibits the enzyme tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA). The temporal and spatial pattern of neuroserpin expression suggests a role in synaptogenesis and is most prominent in areas of the brain that participate in learning, memory and behaviour. Neuroserpin also provides neuronal protection in pathologies such as cerebral ischaemia and epilepsy by preventing excessive activity of tPA. Point mutations in neuroserpin cause aberrant conformational transitions and the formation of loop-sheet polymers that are retained within the endoplasmic reticulum of neurons, forming inclusion bodies that underlie an autosomal dominant dementia that we have called familial encephalopathy with neuroserpin inclusion bodies or FENIB. We review here the role of neuroserpin and other proteinase inhibitors in brain development, function and disease.

Received 25 February 2005; received after revision 16 November 2005; accepted 28 November 2005