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Cells respond to external signals in a variety of complex ways. Hormones and small molecules outside the cell can directly interact with proteins (receptors) anchored to the outer surface of cells, thereby triggering processes inside cells that result in differentiation, growth, ageing and death. The action of some proteases on proteins (receptors) anchored to the outer surface of cells are now thought to be important in immune defence, cancer, inflammation, asthma and allergy. Dust mites for example are known to secrete proteases that cause inflammation and asthma, remodelling proteins on cell surfaces in the airways. Other proteases are known to cut proteins (receptors) anchored to the inner surface of cell membranes releasing new signalling proteins inside the cell. Just how proteases exert all their function in man is still uncertain, and it is likely that many more classes of protease receptors remain to be discovered.

Dustmites linked with asthma.

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