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

alpha1-Antitrypsin Portland, a bioengineered serpin highly selective for furin: application as an antipathogenic agent.

The important role of furin in the proteolytic activation of many pathogenic molecules has made this endoprotease a target for the development of potent and selective antiproteolytic agents. Here, we demonstrate the utility of the protein-based inhibitor alpha1-antitrypsin Portland (alpha1-PDX) as an antipathogenic agent that can be used prophylactically to block furin-dependent cell killing by Pseudomonas exotoxin A. Biochemical analysis of the specificity of a bacterially expressed His- and FLAG-tagged alpha1-PDX (alpha1-PDX/hf) revealed the selectivity of the alpha1-PDX/hf reactive site loop for furin (Ki, 600 pM) but not for other proprotein convertase family members or other unrelated endoproteases. Kinetic studies show that alpha1-PDX/hf inhibits furin by a slow tight-binding mechanism characteristic of serpin molecules and functions as a suicide substrate inhibitor. Once bound to furin's active site, alpha1-PDX/hf partitions with equal probability to undergo proteolysis by furin at the C-terminal side of the reactive center -Arg355-Ile-Pro-Arg358- downward arrow or to form a kinetically trapped SDS-stable complex with the enzyme. This partitioning between the complex-forming and proteolytic pathways contributes to the ability of alpha1-PDX/hf to differentially inhibit members of the proprotein convertase family. Finally, we propose a structural model of the alpha1-PDX-reactive site loop that explains the high degree of enzyme selectivity of this serpin and which can be used to generate small molecule furin inhibitors.[1]


  1. alpha1-Antitrypsin Portland, a bioengineered serpin highly selective for furin: application as an antipathogenic agent. Jean, F., Stella, K., Thomas, L., Liu, G., Xiang, Y., Reason, A.J., Thomas, G. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1998) [Pubmed]
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