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J Mol Biol. 1998 Sep 18;282(2):447-58.

The role of threonine in the P2 position of Bowman-Birk proteinase inhibitors: studies on P2 variation in cyclic peptides encompassing the reactive site loop.

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Department of Chemistry, Imperial College of Science, London, South Kensington, SW7 2AY, UK.


Previously, we have described a template-assisted combinatorial peptide library based on the anti-tryptic reactive site loop of a Bowman-Birk inhibitor (BBI). Sequences that displayed inhibitory activity re-directed towards chymotrypsin were found to have a consensus binding motif, with their most striking feature being that exclusively threonine was found at the P2 position. The present study investigates the reason for this surprising specificity by maintaining the binding motif but systematically varying the P2 residue. From analysis of 26 variants, it is found that the requirements for inhibitory activity at P2 are finely tuned, and in agreement with the library work, threonine at P2 provides optimal inhibition. In addition, peptides with threonine at P2 are significantly less susceptible to hydrolysis. Examination of all available BBI sequences shows that threonine is very highly conserved at P2, which implies that the functional requirement extends to the full-length BBI protein. Our results are consistent with a dual requirement for hydrophobic recognition within the S2 pocket and maintenance of an inhibitory conformation via hydrogen bonding within the reactive-site loop. As the isolated peptide loop reproduces the active region of full-length BBI, these results explain why threonine is well conserved at P2 in this class of inhibitor. Furthermore, they illustrate that proteinase inhibitor specificity can have characteristics that are not easily predicted from information on the substrate preferences of a proteinase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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