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Biochemistry. 2001 Dec 25;40(51):15762-70.

The serpin MNEI inhibits elastase-like and chymotrypsin-like serine proteases through efficient reactions at two active sites.

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  • 1Center for Blood Research, Harvard Medical School, 800 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


MNEI (monocyte/neutrophil elastase inhibitor) is a 42 kDa serpin superfamily protein characterized initially as a fast-acting inhibitor of neutrophil elastase. Here we show that MNEI has a broader specificity, efficiently inhibiting proteases with elastase- and chymotrypsin-like specificities. Reaction of MNEI with neutrophil proteinase-3, an elastase-like protease, and porcine pancreatic elastase demonstrated rapid inhibition rate constants >10(7) M(-1) s(-1), similar to that observed for neutrophil elastase. Reactions of MNEI with chymotrypsin-like proteases were also rapid: cathepsin G from neutrophils (>10(6) M(-1) s(-1)), mast cell chymase (>10(5) M(-1) s(-1)), chymotrypsin (>10(6) M(-1) s(-1)), and prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which had the slowest rate constant at approximately 10(4) M(-1) s(-1). Inhibition of trypsin-like (plasmin, granzyme A, and thrombin) and caspase-like (granzyme B) serine proteases was not observed or highly inefficient (trypsin), nor was inhibition of proteases from the cysteine (caspase-1 and caspase-3) and metalloprotease (macrophage elastase, MMP-12) families. The stoichiometry of inhibition for all inhibitory reactions was near 1, and inhibitory complexes were resistant to dissociation by SDS, further indicating the specificity of MNEI for elastase- and chymotrypsin-like proteases. Determination of the reactive site of MNEI by N-terminal sequencing and mass analysis of reaction products identified two reactive sites, each with a different specificity. Cys(344), which corresponds to Met(358), the P(1) site of alpha1-antitrypsin, was the inhibitory site for elastase-like proteases and PSA, while the preceding residue, Phe(343), was the inhibitory site for chymotrypsin-like proteases. This study demonstrates that MNEI has two functional reactive sites corresponding to the predicted P(1) and P(2) positions of the reactive center loop. The data suggest that MNEI plays a regulatory role at extravascular sites to limit inflammatory damage due to proteases of cellular origin.

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