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FEBS Lett. 2001 Apr 6;494(1-2):30-3.

Intrinsic fluorescence changes and rapid kinetics of proteinase deformation during serpin inhibition.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, P.O. Box 13D, Monash University, 3800, Clayton, Vic., Australia.


The X-ray crystal structure of the serpin-proteinase complex suggested that the serpin deformed the proteinase thereby inactivating the molecule. Using a variant of alpha(1)-antitrypsin in which both tryptophan residues have been replaced by phenylalanine, we have shown that the proteinase becomes partially unfolded during serpin inhibition. The tryptophan free variant, alpha(1)-antitrypsin((FF)), is fully active as an inhibitor of thrombin. Thrombin has a fluorescence emission maximum of 340 nm which blue shifts to 346 nm, concomitant with a 40% increase in intensity, upon formation of the serpin-proteinase complex indicative of substantial conformational change within the proteinase. Stopped-flow analysis of the fluorescence changes within the proteinase indicated a two-step mechanism. A fast bimolecular reaction with a rate constant of 2.8x10(6) M(-1) s(-1) is followed by a slow unimolecular process with a rate of 0.26 s(-1) that is independent of concentration. We propose that the first rate is formation of an initial complex which is then followed by a slower process involving the partial unfolding of the proteinase during its translocation to the opposite pole of the serpin.

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