National Center for
4O3T: Zymogen Hgf-beta/met With Zymogen Activator Peptide Zap.14
Nat. Chem. Biol. (2014) 10 p.567-573
Stimulation of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) signaling through the Met receptor is an attractive approach for promoting tissue repair and preventing fibrosis. Using structure-guided peptide phage display combined with an activity-based sorting strategy, we engineered allosteric activators of zymogen-like pro-HGF to bypass proteolytic activation and reversibly stimulate pro-HGF signaling through Met. Biochemical, structural and biological data showed that zymogen activator peptides (ZAPtides) potently and selectively bind the activation pocket within the serine protease-like beta-chain of pro-HGF and display titratable activation of pro-HGF-dependent Met signaling, leading to cell survival and migration. To further demonstrate the versatility of our ZAPtide platform, we identified allosteric activators for pro-macrophage stimulating protein and a zymogen serine protease, Protein C, which also provides evidence for target selectivity. These studies reveal that ZAPtides use molecular mimicry of the trypsin-like N-terminal insertion mechanism and establish a new paradigm for selective pharmacological activation of plasminogen-related growth factors and zymogen serine proteases.