The Journal of biological chemistry

RNase 7, a novel innate immune defense antimicrobial protein of healthy human skin.

PMID 12244054


We analyzed healthy human skin for the presence of endogenous antimicrobial proteins that might explain the unusually high resistance of human skin against infections. A novel 14.5-kDa antimicrobial ribonuclease, termed RNase 7, was isolated from skin-derived stratum corneum. RNase 7 exhibited potent ribonuclease activity and thus may contribute to the well known ribonuclease activity of human skin. RNase 7 revealed broad spectrum antimicrobial activity against many pathogenic microorganisms and remarkably potent activity (lethal dose of 90% < 30 nm) against a vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium. Molecular cloning from skin-derived primary keratinocytes and purification of RNase 7 from supernatants of cultured primary keratinocytes indicate that keratinocytes represent the major cellular source in skin and that RNase 7 is secreted. RNase 7 mRNA expression was detected in various epithelial tissues including skin, respiratory tract, genitourinary tract, and at a low level, in the gut. In addition to a constitutive expression, RNase 7 mRNA was induced in cultured primary keratinocytes by interleukin-1beta, interferon-gamma, and bacterial challenge. This is the first report demonstrating RNases as a novel class of epithelial inducible antimicrobial proteins, which may play an important role in the innate immune defense system of human epithelia.