Neutrophil elastase, a potent serine protease carried and released by activated neutrophils, is not synthesized by neutrophils, but by their bone marrow precursor cells. Using in situ hybridization with 35S-labeled antisense and sense neutrophil elastase cRNA probes, the present study demonstrates that expression of the neutrophil elastase gene is tightly controlled in bone marrow precursors and occurs during a very limited stage of differentiation of the neutrophil myeloid series, almost entirely at the promyelocyte stage. Neutrophil elastase mRNA transcript levels are detectable to a limited extent in blasts, increase markedly in the promyelocyte stage, and then disappear as promyelocytes further differentiate. Control probes specific for myeloperoxidase, lactoferrin, and beta-globin mRNA transcripts, respectively, demonstrated contrasting gene expression. Myeloperoxidase mRNA transcripts were also found almost exclusively at the promyelocyte stage, but myeloperoxidase mRNA levels disappeared earlier than do neutrophil elastase mRNA levels, suggesting that expression of these genes may be differently controlled. In comparison, lactoferrin mRNA transcripts were detected late in the neutrophil lineage, while beta-globin mRNA was detected only in cells of the erythroid lineage. Together these observations suggest that the expression of the neutrophil elastase gene is likely under very tight control, and is likely different than that for other constituents of the neutrophil granules.

This content is only available as a PDF.