Elicited peritoneal neutrophils of beige (Chediak-Higashi) mice essentially lack activities of the neutral serine proteinases elastase and cathepsin G, which may explain the increased susceptibility to infection of beige mice and Chediak-Higashi patients. We have examined neutrophils of beige mice at earlier points in their development to determine if the proteinase genes are never expressed or whether they are expressed and then lost during neutrophil maturation. Surprisingly, bone marrow of beige mice had significant elastase and cathepsin G activity (approximately 60% of normal). The results of several experiments indicate that neutrophils were the sole source of elastase and cathepsin G in bone marrow. Neutral proteinase activity was readily demonstrable by histochemical procedures in beige marrow neutrophil precursors up to and including the metamyelocyte stage. However, mature neutrophils of beige marrow had greatly decreased activity. Also mature neutrophils (PMNs) of the peripheral circulation, like peritoneal neutrophils, had very low elastase and cathepsin C activities. Thus we conclude that beige neutrophil precursors express neutral proteinase activity, which is largely and irreversibly depleted by the time they fully mature in marrow.

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