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

Thrombospondin is a tight- binding competitive inhibitor of neutrophil elastase.

Thrombospondin, a glycoprotein of three identical disulfide-bonded subunits, is a constituent of platelet alpha-granules and a variety of normal and transformed cells and binds to cell surfaces and becomes incorporated into extracellular matrix. It has been implicated in processes such as wound healing and tumor growth and metastasis. In addition, thrombospondin was shown recently to be an inhibitor of the fibrinolytic enzyme, plasmin. In the cause of studying the effects of thrombospondin on other serine proteinases, we found that thrombospondin binds neutrophil elastase in an active-site-dependent manner and competitively inhibits the activity of the enzyme. In a competitive binding assay, neutrophil elastase bound to thrombospondin with a dissociation constant of 17 +/- 7 nM, expressed per mole of thrombospondin trimer, or 52 +/- 20 nM, expressed per mole of thrombospondin subunit. In kinetic studies of the inhibition of the amidolytic activity of neutrophil elastase by thrombospondin, 2.7 +/- 0.3 mol of elastase interacted with 1 mol of thrombospondin trimer with a site-binding constant of 57 +/- 13 nM. Lower limits for the on rate constant of 5 x 10(6) M-1 s-1 and off rate constant of 0.27 s-1 were established. Affinity of binding of neutrophil elastase to thrombospondin was sensitive to ionic strength and calcium ions. Thrombospondin was cleaved by neutrophil elastase, but the site(s) of the limited cleavage are independent of the competitive inhibition of elastase activity by thrombospondin. Neutrophil elastase inactivated with phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride did not compete with active elastase for binding to thrombospondin, implying that a functional active site is important for the interaction of elastase with thrombospondin. Thrombospondin protected fibronectin from cleavage by neutrophil elastase. In summary, the binding of neutrophil elastase to thrombospondin is tight, reversible, and close enough to the active site of elastase to exclude small synthetic tripeptidyl p-nitroanilide substrates and macromolecular protein substrates. Two potential reactive centers that may be involved in binding elastase have been identified in the calcium-binding type 3 domains of thrombospondin. Neutrophil elastase is the enzyme primarily responsible for degrading and solubilizing connective tissue during inflammatory processes. These findings suggest a previously unsuspected mechanism for regulation of elastase activity at inflammatory sites.[1]


  1. Thrombospondin is a tight-binding competitive inhibitor of neutrophil elastase. Hogg, P.J., Owensby, D.A., Mosher, D.F., Misenheimer, T.M., Chesterman, C.N. J. Biol. Chem. (1993) [Pubmed]
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