We have recently shown that endothelial cell-derived IL-8 inhibits neutrophil adhesion to IL1-beta-activated human umbilical vein endothelial cell monolayers. IL-8 secreted by T lymphocytes or monocytes has been characterized as a promoter of neutrophil degranulation and chemotaxis. The IL-8 isolated from each of these cell types is a mixture of two IL-8 polypeptides, one consisting of 72 amino acids (herein called [ser-IL-8]72) and the other 77 amino acids (an N-terminal extended form herein called [ala-IL-8]77). IL-8 derived from T lymphocytes and monocytes is predominantly [ser-IL-8]72, whereas endothelial-derived IL-8 is highly enriched (greater than 80%) in [ala-IL-8]77. We address the relationship and activities of these two forms of IL-8 using recombinant proteins expressed by both mammalian cells and Escherichia coli. Thrombin was found to efficiently convert [ala-IL-8]77 to [ser-IL-8]72. In contrast, urokinase and tissue-type plasminogen activator were unable to cleave [ala-IL-8]77, and trypsin generated multiple IL-8 cleavage fragments. In competitive binding assays using 125I[ala-IL-8]77 neutrophils exhibited a twofold preference for [ser-IL-8]72 over [ala-IL-8]77. Both forms of IL-8 inhibited neutrophil adhesion to IL-1-beta-activated HUVEC monolayers by up to 90%. However, [ser-IL-8]72 was approximately 10-fold more potent than [ala-IL-8]77 in these assays (ED50 approximately 0.3 nM for [ser-IL-8]72 vs approximately 3 nM for [ala-IL-8]77. Both forms of IL-8 promoted degranulation of cytochalasin B-treated neutrophils [[ser-IL-8]72 (ED50 greater than 10 nM) was two- to three-fold more potent than [ala-IL-8]77], although in this regard they were less active than FMLP. Our data suggest that [ala-IL-8]77 and [ser-IL-8]72 have qualitatively similar and potentially complex biological activities, and that full activation of IL-8 requires cleavage to the [ser-IL-8]72 form. In the case of inflamed endothelial cells this activation could be mediated by thrombin generated in the procoagulant environment associated with these cells.

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