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ISRN Immunology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 354365, 15 pages
Review Article

An Emerging Role for Serine Protease Inhibitors in T Lymphocyte Immunity and Beyond

Section of Immunobiology, Division of Immunology and Inflammation, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Room 258, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2AZ, UK

Received 29 July 2012; Accepted 6 September 2012

Academic Editors: G. Chaouat, P. Kisielow, A. Sundstedt, and A. Vicente

Copyright © 2012 Philip G. Ashton-Rickardt. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The serine proteases of T lymphocytes provide immunity to infection. Serine Proteases Inhibitors (serpins) control the recognition of antigen, effector function, and homeostatic control of T lymphocytes through the inhibition of serine protease targets. Serpins are important promoters of cellular viability through their inhibition of executioner proteases, which affects the survival and development of long-lived memory T cells. The potent antiapoptotic properties of serpins can also work against cellular immunity by protecting viruses and tumors from eradication by T lymphocytes. Recent insights from knockout mouse models demonstrate that serpins also are required for hematological progenitor cells and so are critical for the development of lineages other than T lymphocytes. Given the emerging role of serpins in multiple aspects of lymphocyte immunity and blood development, there is much potential for new therapeutic approaches based directly on serpins or knowledge gained from identifying their physiologically relevant protease targets.