Inhibitors belonging to the serpin (serine protease inhibitor) family control proteases involved in various physiological processes. All serpins have a common tertiary structure based on the dominant b-sheet A, but they have different inhibitory specificity. The specificity of a serpin is determined by the Pl-Pl’ peptide bond acting as a bait for the target protease which is made up of an exposed reactive centre loop (RCL). The serpin plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1) is the main physiological inhibitor of urokinase-type and tissue-type plasminogen activators (uPA and tPA, respectively). Elevated plasma levels of PAI-l have been correlated with a higher risk of deep venous thrombosis, and PAI-1 is a risk factor for recurrent myocardial infarction. Furthermore, PAI-1 has a role in cell migration and has been suggested to regulate tumor growth and angiogenesis. PAI-1 is unique among the serpins in that it can spontaneously and rapidly convert into its latent form. This involves full insertion of the RCL into b-sheet A.
There were two partially overlapping goals for this thesis. The first was to use latent PAI-1 as model for development of a fluorescence-based method, Donor-Donor Energy Migration for intramolecular distance measurements. The second goal was to use DDEM, together with other biochemical methods, to reveal the structure of the PAI-1/uPA complex, the conformation of the RCL in active PAI-1, and molecular determinants responsible for the conversion of PAI-1 from the active to the latent form.
The use of molecular genetics for introduction of fluorescent molecules enables the use of DDEM to determine intramolecular distances in a variety of proteins. This approach can be applied to examin the overall molecular dimensions of proteins and to investigate structural changes upon interactions with specific target molecules. In this work, the accuracy of the DDEM method has been evaluated by experiments with the latent PAI-1 for which X-ray structure is known. Our data show that distances approximating the Förster radius (57±1 Å) obtained by DDEM are in good agreement (within 5.5 Å) with the distances obtained by X-ray crystallography.
The molecular details of the inhibitory mechanism of serpins and the structure of the serpin/protease complex have remained unclear. To obtain the structural insights required to discriminate between different models of serpin inhibition, we used fluorescence spectroscopy and cross-linking techniques to map sites of PAI-1/uPA interaction, and distance measurement by DDEM to triangulate the position of the uPA in the complex. The data have demonstrated clearly that in the covalent PAI-1/uPA complex, the uPA is located at the distal end of the PAI-1 molecule relative to the initial docking site. This indicates that serpin inhibition involves reactive center cleavage followed by full loop insertion, whereby the covalently linked protease is translocated from one pole of the inhibitor to the opposite one.
To search for molecular determinants that could be responsible for conversion of PAI-1 to the latent form, we studied the conformation of the RCL in active PAI-1 in solution. Intramolecular distance measurements by DDEM, the newly a developed method based on probe quenching and biochemical methods revealed that the RCL in PAI-1 is located much closer to the core of PAI-1 than has been suggested by the recently resolved X-ray structures of stable PAI-1 mutants, and it can be partially inserted. This possibly explains for the ability of PAI-1 to convert spontaneously to its latent form.
Umeå: Medicinsk biokemi och biofysik , 2003. , 37 p.
Biomedicine, PAI-1/ serpin/ RCL/ complex formation/ DDEM/ Intramolecular distance