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J Biol Chem. 1996 Mar 15;271(11):6523-9.

Cellular internalization and degradation of antithrombin III-thrombin, heparin cofactor II-thrombin, and alpha 1-antitrypsin-trypsin complexes is mediated by the low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, American Red Cross, Rockville, Maryland 20855, USA.


The inhibition of proteinase activity by members of the serine proteinase inhibitor (serpin) family is a critical regulatory mechanism for a variety of biological processes. Once formed, the serpin enzyme complexes (SECs) are removed from the circulation by a hepatic receptor. The present study suggests that this receptor is very likely the low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP), a prominent liver receptor. In vitro binding studies revealed that antithrombin III (ATIII)-thrombin, heparin cofactor II (HCII)-thrombin, and alpha1-antitrypsin (alpha1AT)-trypsin bound to purified LRP, and their binding was inhibited by the 39-kDa receptor-associated protein (RAP), an antagonist of LRP-ligand binding activity. In contrast, native or modified forms of the inhibitors were unable to bind to LRP. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts, which express LRP, mediate the cellular internalization leading to degradation of these SECs, while mouse fibroblasts genetically deficient in LRP showed no capacity to internalize and degrade these complexes. SECs were also degraded by HepG2 cells, and this process was inhibited by LRP antibodies, RAP, and chloroquine. The cellular-mediated uptake and degradation was specific for SECs; native or modified forms of the inhibitors were not internalized and degraded. Finally, in vivo clearance studies in rats demonstrated that RAP inhibited the clearance of ATIII-125I-thrombin complexes from the circulation. Together, these results indicate that LRP functions as a liver receptor responsible for the plasma clearance of SECs.

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