Alpha-1 proteinase inhibitor (API) is a plasma serpin superfamily member that inhibits neutrophil elastase; variant API M358R inhibits thrombin and activated protein C (APC). Fusing residues 1-75 of another serpin, heparin cofactor II (HCII), to API M358R (in HAPI M358R) was previously shown to accelerate thrombin inhibition over API M358R by conferring thrombin exosite 1 binding properties. We hypothesized that replacing HCII 1-75 region with the 13 C-terminal residues (triskaidecapeptide) of hirudin variant 3 (HV354-66) would further enhance the inhibitory potency of API M358R fusion proteins. We therefore expressed HV3API M358R (HV354-66 fused to API M358R) and HV3API RCL5 (HV354-66 fused to API F352A/L353V/E354V/A355I/I356A/I460L/M358R) API M358R) as N-terminally hexahistidine-tagged polypeptides in
E. coli. Results
HV3API M358R inhibited thrombin 3.3-fold more rapidly than API M358R; for HV3API RCL5 the rate enhancement was 1.9-fold versus API RCL5; neither protein inhibited thrombin as rapidly as HAPI M358R. While the thrombin/Activated Protein C rate constant ratio was 77-fold higher for HV3API RCL5 than for HV3API M358R, most of the increased specificity derived from the API F352A/L353V/E354V/A355I/I356A/I460L API RCL 5 mutations, since API RCL5 remained 3-fold more specific than HV3API RCL5. An HV3 54-66 peptide doubled the Thrombin Clotting Time (TCT) and halved the binding of thrombin to immobilized HCII 1-75 at lower concentrations than free HCII 1-75. HV3API RCL5 bound active site-inhibited FPR-chloromethyl ketone-thrombin more effectively than HAPI RCL5. Transferring the position of the fused HV3 triskaidecapeptide to the C-terminus of API M358R decreased the rate of thrombin inhibition relative to that mediated by HV3API M358R by 11-to 14-fold.
Fusing the C-terminal triskaidecapeptide of HV3 to API M358R-containing serpins significantly increased their effectiveness as thrombin inhibitors, but the enhancement was less than that seen in HCII 1-75–API M358R fusion proteins. HCII 1-75 was a superior fusion partner, in spite of the greater affinity of the HV3 triskaidecapeptide, manifested both in isolated and API-fused form, for thrombin exosite 1. Our results suggest that HCII 1-75 binds thrombin exosite 1 and orients the attached serpin scaffold for more efficient interaction with the active site of thrombin than the HV3 triskaidecapeptide.