Yakugaku Zasshi. 2021;141(4):527-540. doi: 10.1248/yakushi.20-00193.
The biological properties of elastase and Aspergillus flavus elastase inhibitor (AFLEI) from A. flavus were examined. Pathogenicity of elastase was investigated in mice immunocompromised with cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, prednisolone and carrageenan. Compared to cyclophosphamide immunocompromised mice treated with the spores of elastase nonproducing strain, cyclophosphamide immunocompromised mice treated with the spores of elastase producing strain had a significantly shorter survival rate. Molecular mass of AFLEI was determined to be 7525.8 Da. The elastolytic activity of elastases from A. flavus, and human leukocytes were inhibited by AFLEI. The primary structure of AFLEI was determined by the Edman sequencing procedure. The search for amino acid homology with other proteins demonstrated that amino acid residues 1 to 68 of AFLEI are 100% identical to residues 20 to 87 of the hypothetical protein AFUA_3G14940 of A. fumigatus. When immunocompromised mice administered of cyclophosphamide were infected by inhalation of A. flavus then administered amphotericin B (AMPH) alone or in combination with AFLEI, survival rate tended to be higher with combination treatment than with AMPH alone. Moreover, although extensive bleeding was seen in pathology sections taken from rat lung resected 24 h after elastase was administered to the lung via the bronchus, this bleeding was inhibited by AFLEI. The X-ray analysis has revealed that the structure of this inhibitor was wedge shaped and composed of a binding loop and a scaffold protein core. As synthetic-inhibitor strongly inhibited cytotoxicity induced by elastase in human-derived cells, it could prove beneficial for the treatment of pulmonary aspergillosis.