The gene PRG2, encoding the proform of eosinophil major basic protein (proMBP), is one of the most highly expressed genes during human pregnancy, and low proMBP levels predict Down syndrome and poor pregnancy outcome. Reminiscent of a magnet, the primary structure of proMBP is extremely charge polarized, consisting of an N-terminal acidic propiece followed by a highly basic MBP domain in the C-terminal. Many tissues synthesize and secrete full-length proMBP, but only distinct cell types of the immune system process and store mature MBP in intracellular granules. MBP is released upon degranulation of eosinophil leukocytes and is toxic to bacteria, parasites, and mammalian cells. In contrast, proMBP is apparently nontoxic and functions in the inhibition of proteolysis and prohormone conversion. Recent research has revealed the complexity of proMBP biology and shed light on the process of MBP generation. ProMBP specifically forms disulfide-mediated, covalent complexes with the metzincin metalloproteinase pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPPA) and the prohormone angiotensinogen (AGT). In both processes, PAPPA and AGT have reduced biological activity in the resulting complexes. In addition, proMBP is a component of high-molecular-weight AGT and, therefore, is potentially involved in the development of preeclampsia and in pregnancy-induced hypertension.
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Vol. 84 • No. 6