Substitution of arginine for Leu444 in the reactive site of heparin cofactor II enhances the rate of thrombin inhibition

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Heparin cofactor II (HCII), a member of the 'serpin' family of serine protease inhibitors, is a 65,600-Da plasma glycoprotein that inhibits thrombin and chymotrypsin. The rate of thrombin inhibition is stimulated ~1000-fold by heparin or dermatan sulfate. Thrombin and chymotrypsin cleave the Leu444-Ser445 bond (designated P1-P1') in the reactive site of HCII, forming a stable equimolar complex in which the protease is inactive. In this study, we have determined the effects of substituting an arginine for Leu444 in recombinant HCII (rHCII). The rHCII was expressed in Escherichia coli and partially purified by heparin-Sepharose chromatography. Apparent second-order rate constants (k2) for inhibition of thrombin, coagulation factor Xa, kallikrein, plasmin, and chymotrypsin by rHCII were determined using appropriate chromogenic substrates. In the absence of a glycosaminoglycan, rHCII(Leu444→Arg) inhibited thrombin at a 98-fold higher rate (k2 = 6.2 x 106 M-1 min-1) than native rHCII (k2 = 6.3 x 104 M-1 min-1). Dermatan sulfate accelerated thrombin inhibition by both forms of rHCII, but the maximum rate constant in the presence of dermatan sulfate was only 2-fold higher for rHCII(Leu444→Arg) (k2 = 5.3 x 108 M-1 min-1) than for native rHCII (k2 = 2.2 x 108 M-1 min-1). Heparin was less effective than dermatan sulfate in stimulating both forms of rHCII. Factor Xa, kallikrein, and plasmin were inhibited more rapidly and chymotrypsin more slowly by rHCII(Leu444→Arg) than by native rHCII. These effects are qualitatively similar to those observed with the natural mutant α1-antitrypsin Pittsburgh (Met358→Arg at the P1 position) and strengthen the hypothesis that the P1 residue is a major determinant of protease specificity in the serpins. Furthermore, the rapid rate of inhibition of thrombin by rHCII(Leu444→Arg) in the absence of heparin or dermatan sulfate suggests that this variant may be useful as a therapeutic agent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5623-5628
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1990


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