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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Molecular cloning and expression of a functional snake venom serine proteinase, with platelet aggregating activity, from the Cerastes cerastes viper.

The venoms of Viperidae snakes contain numerous serine proteinases that have been recognized to possess one or more of the essential activities of thrombin on fibrinogen and platelets. Among them, a platelet proaggregant protein, cerastocytin, has been isolated from the venom of the Tunisian viper Cerastes cerastes. Using the RACE-PCR technique, we isolated and identified the complete nucleotide sequence of a cDNA serine proteinase precursor. The recombinant protein was designated rCC-PPP (for C. cerastes platelet proaggregant protein), since its deduced amino acid sequence is more than 96% identical to the partial polypeptide sequences that have been determined for natural cerastocytin. The structure of the rCC-PPP cDNA is similar to that of snake venom serine proteinases. The expression of rCC-PPP in Escherichia coli system allowed, for the first time, the preparation and purification of an active protein from snake venom with platelet proaggregant and fibrinogenolytic activities. Purified rCC-PPP efficiently activates blood platelets at nanomolar (8 nM) concentrations, as do natural cerastocytin (5 nM) and thrombin (1 nM). It is able to clot purified fibrinogen and to hydrolyze alpha-chains. Thus, rCC-PPP could be therefore considered a cerastocytin isoform. By comparison with other snake venom serine proteinases, a Gly replaces the conserved Cys(42). This implies that rCC-PPP lacks the conserved Cys(42)-Cys(58) disulfide bridge. A structural analysis performed by molecular modeling indicated that the segment of residues Tyr(67)-Arg(80) of rCC-PPP corresponds to anion-binding exosite 1 of thrombin that is involved in its capacity to induce platelet aggregation. Furthermore, the surface of the rCC-PPP molecule is characterized by a hydrophobic pocket, comprising the 90 loop (Phe(90)-Val(99)), Tyr(172), and Trp(215) residues, which might be involved in the fibrinogen clotting activity of rCC-PPP.[1]


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