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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 8;286(27):24467-75. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.225706. Epub 2011 May 23.

Dependence on endocytic receptor binding via a minimal binding motif underlies the differential prognostic profiles of SerpinE1 and SerpinB2 in cancer.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia.


Tumor overexpression of urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and its specific inhibitor SerpinE1 (plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1) correlates with poor prognosis and increased metastatic potential. Conversely, tumor expression of uPA and another specific inhibitor, SerpinB2 (plasminogen activator inhibitor type-2), are associated with favorable outcome and relapse-free survival. It is not known how overexpression of these uPA inhibitors results in such disparate outcomes. A possible explanation may be related to the presence of a proposed low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR)-binding motif in SerpinE1 responsible for mitogenic signaling via ERK that is absent in SerpinB2. We now show that complementation of such a LDLR-binding motif in SerpinB2 by mutagenesis of two key residues enabled high affinity binding to very LDLR (VLDLR). Furthermore, the VLDLR-binding SerpinB2 form behaved in a manner indistinguishable from SerpinE1 in terms of enhanced uPA-SerpinB2 complex endocytosis and subsequent ERK phosphorylation and cell proliferation; that is, the introduction of the LDLR-binding motif to SerpinB2 was necessary and sufficient to allow it to acquire characteristics of SerpinE1 associated with malignancy. In conclusion, this study defines the structural elements underlying the distinct interactions of SerpinE1 versus SerpinB2 with endocytic receptors and how differential VLDLR binding impacts on downstream cellular behavior. This has clear relevance to understanding the paradoxical disease outcomes associated with overexpression of these serpins in cancer.

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