An antiserum was produced against a chymotryptic proteinase purified from human skin. The antiserum did not cross-react with human leukocyte cathepsin G and elastase, rat mast cell proteinase I, and human skin tryptase. Indirect immunofluorescent staining of frozen skin sections to localize the proteinase showed cytoplasmic staining of cells scattered about the papillary dermis and around blood vessels and appendages. Restaining these sections with toluidine blue revealed that the fluorescently stained cells contained metachromatically staining granules, the major distinguishing feature of mast cells. A similar correlation was found in lung tissue. Ultrastructural studies employing the ferritin bridge technique to immunologically identify the proteinase additionally localized the proteinase to mast cell granules. Biochemical and immunochemical characterization of chymotryptic activity solubilized from isolated human lung mast cells identified a chymotryptic proteinase that may be identical to the skin chymotryptic proteinase. These studies establish that human skin mast cells contain a chymotrypsin-like proteinase that is a granule constituent and provide evidence that indicates a comparable proteinase is also present in lung mast cells.

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