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Biochem J. 2012 Aug 15;446(1):69-77. doi: 10.1042/BJ20120548.

Buckwheat trypsin inhibitor with helical hairpin structure belongs to a new family of plant defence peptides.

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  • 1M. M. Shemyakin and Yu. A. Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Miklukho-Maklaya, 16/10, 117997 Moscow, Russia.

Erratum in

  • Biochem J. 2012 Sep 1;446(2):331.

Abstract

A new peptide trypsin inhibitor named BWI-2c was obtained from buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) seeds by sequential affinity, ion exchange and reversed-phase chromatography. The peptide was sequenced and found to contain 41 amino acid residues, with four cysteine residues involved in two intramolecular disulfide bonds. Recombinant BWI-2c identical to the natural peptide was produced in Escherichia coli in a form of a cleavable fusion with thioredoxin. The 3D (three-dimensional) structure of the peptide in solution was determined by NMR spectroscopy, revealing two antiparallel α-helices stapled by disulfide bonds. Together with VhTI, a trypsin inhibitor from veronica (Veronica hederifolia), BWI-2c represents a new family of protease inhibitors with an unusual α-helical hairpin fold. The linker sequence between the helices represents the so-called trypsin inhibitory loop responsible for direct binding to the active site of the enzyme that cleaves BWI-2c at the functionally important residue Arg(19). The inhibition constant was determined for BWI-2c against trypsin (1.7×10(-1)0 M), and the peptide was tested on other enzymes, including those from various insect digestive systems, revealing high selectivity to trypsin-like proteases. Structural similarity shared by BWI-2c, VhTI and several other plant defence peptides leads to the acknowledgement of a new widespread family of plant peptides termed α-hairpinins.

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