The α1-protease inhibitor proteins of laboratory mice are homologous in sequence and function to human α1-antitrypsin and are encoded by a highly conserved multigene family comprised of five members. In humans, the inhibitor is expressed in liver and in macrophages and decreased expression or inhibitory activity is associated with a deficiency syndrome which can result in emphysema and liver disease in affected individuals. It has been proposed that macrophage expression may be an important component of the function of human α1-antitrypsin. Clearly, it is desirable to develop a mouse model of this deficiency syndrome, however, efforts to do this have been largely unsuccessful. In this paper, we report that aside from the issues of potentially redundant gene function, the mouse may not be a suitable animal for such studies, because there is no significant expression of murine α1-protease inhibitor in the macrophages of mice. This difference between the species appears to result from an absence of a functional macrophage-specific promoter in mice.
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