In previous studies, we demonstrated that allergenic house dust mite proteases are potent inducers of proinflammatory cytokines from the respiratory epithelium, although the precise mechanisms involved were unclear. In this study, we investigated whether this was achieved through activation of protease-activated receptor (PAR)-1 or -2. Pretreatment of A549 respiratory epithelial cells with the clinically important cysteine protease allergen, Der p 1, ablated subsequent PAR-1, but not PAR-2 agonist peptide-induced IL-6 and IL-8 release. HeLa cells transfected with the plasmid coding for PAR-2, in contrast to PAR-1, released significant concentration of IL-6 after exposure to Der p 1. Exposure of HeLa cells transfected with either PAR-1/enhanced yellow fusion protein or PAR-2/enhanced yellow fusion protein to Der p 1 caused receptor internalization in the latter cells only, as judged by confocal microscopy with re-expression of the receptor within 120-min postenzyme exposure. Der p 1-induced cytokine release from both A549 and transfected HeLa cells was accompanied by changes in intracellular C2+ concentrations. Desensitization studies showed that Der p 1 pretreatment of the A549 cells resulted in the abolition of both trypsin- and PAR-2 agonist peptide-induced Ca2+ release, but not that induced by subsequent exposure to either thrombin or PAR-1 agonist peptide. These data indicate for the first time that the house dust mite allergen Der p 1-induced cytokine release from respiratory epithelial cells is, in part, mediated by activation of PAR-2, but not PAR-1.