Gingipains are trypsin-like cysteine proteinases produced by Porphyromonas gingivalis, a major causative bacterium of adult periodontitis. Rgps (HRgpA and RgpB) and Kgp are specific for -Arg-Xaa- and -Lys-Xaa- peptide bonds, respectively. HRgpA and Kgp are noncovalent complexes containing separate catalytic and adhesion / hemagglutinin domains, while RgpB has only a catalytic domain with a primary structure essentially identical to that of the catalytic subunit of HRgpA. The multiple virulence activities of gingipains are reviewed in view of the biphasic mechanisms: activation and inactivation of host proteins. Rgps enhanced vascular permeability through prekallikrein activation or direct bradykinin release in combination with Kgp. This Rgp action is potentially associated with gingival edema and crevicular fluid production. Rgps activate the blood coagulation system, leading to progression of inflammation and consequent alveolar bone loss in the periodontitis site. Rgps also activate protease-activated receptors and induce platelet aggregation, which, together with the coagulation-inducing activity, may explain an emerging link between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease. Kgp is the most potent fibrinogen / fibrin degrading enzyme of the three gingipains in human plasma, being involved in the bleeding tendency at the diseased gingiva. Gingipains stimulate expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in fibroblasts and activate secreted latent MMPs that can destroy periodontal tissues. Gingipains degrade cytokines, components of the complement system and several receptors, including macrophage CD14, T cell CD4 and CD8, thus perturbing the host-defense systems and thereby facilitating sustained colonization of P. gingivalis. Gingipains are potent virulence factors of P. gingivalis, and in many regards their pathogenic activities constitute new mechanisms of bacterial virulence.
Keywords: biphasic virulence activities, host proteins, gingipains, porphyromonas gingivalis, adult periodontitis, lys-xaa- peptide bonds, hrgpa, coagulation-inducing activity, metalloproteinases
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