ABSTRACT: Prothrombin is the zymogen precursor of the clotting enzyme thrombin, which is generated by two sequential cleavages at R271 and R320 by the prothrombinase complex. The structure of prothrombin is currently unknown. Prethrombin-1 differs from prothrombin for the absence of 155 residues in the N-terminal domain and is composed of a single polypeptide chain containing fragment 2 (residues 156-271), A chain (residues 272-320), and B chain (residues 321-579). The X-ray crystal structure of prethrombin-1 solved at 2.2-Å resolution shows an overall conformation significantly different (rmsd = 3.6 Å) from that of its active form meizothrombin desF1 carrying a cleavage at R320. Fragment 2 is rotated around the y axis by 29° and makes only few contacts with the B chain. In the B chain, the oxyanion hole is disrupted due to absence of the I16-D194 ion pair and the Na(+) binding site and adjacent primary specificity pocket are highly perturbed. A remarkable feature of the structure is that the autolysis loop assumes a helical conformation enabling W148 and W215, located 17 Å apart in meizothrombin desF1, to come within 3.3 Å of each other and completely occlude access to the active site. These findings suggest that the zymogen form of thrombin possesses conformational plasticity comparable to that of the mature enzyme and have significant implications for the mechanism of prothrombin activation and the zymogen ? protease conversion in trypsin-like proteases.
Project description:Prothrombin, or coagulation factor II, is a multidomain zymogen precursor of thrombin that undergoes an allosteric equilibrium between two alternative conformations, open and closed, that react differently with the physiological activator prothrombinase. Specifically, the dominant closed form promotes cleavage at R320 and initiates activation along the meizothrombin pathway, whilst the open form promotes cleavage at R271 and initiates activation along the alternative prethrombin-2 pathway. Here we report how key structural features of prothrombin can be monitored by limited proteolysis with chymotrypsin that attacks W468 in the flexible autolysis loop of the protease domain in the open but not the closed form. Perturbation of prothrombin by selective removal of its constituent Gla domain, kringles and linkers reveals their long-range communication and supports a scenario where stabilization of the open form switches the pathway of activation from meizothrombin to prethrombin-2. We also identify R296 in the A chain of the protease domain as a critical link between the allosteric open-closed equilibrium and exposure of the sites of cleavage at R271 and R320. These findings reveal important new details on the molecular basis of prothrombin function.
Project description:Thrombin is a dual action serine protease in the blood clotting cascade. Similar to other clotting factors, thrombin is mainly present in the blood in a zymogen form, prothrombin. Although the two cleavage events required to activate thrombin are well-known, little is known about why the thrombin precursors are inactive proteases. Although prothrombin is much larger than thrombin, prethrombin-2, which contains all of the same amino acids as thrombin, but has not yet been cleaved between Arg320 and Ile321, remains inactive. Crystal structures of both prethrombin-2 and thrombin are available and show almost no differences in the active site conformations. Slight differences were, however, seen in the loops surrounding the active site, which are larger in thrombin than in most other trypsin-like proteases, and have been shown to be important for substrate specificity. To explore whether the dynamics of the active site loops were different in the various zymogen forms of thrombin, we employed amide H/(2)H exchange experiments to compare the exchange rates of regions of thrombin with the same regions of prothrombin, prethrombin-2, and meizothrombin. Many of the surface loops showed less exchange in the zymogen forms, including the large loop corresponding to anion binding exosite 1. Conversely, the autolysis loop and sodium-binding site exchanged more readily in the zymogen forms. Prothrombin and prethrombin-2 gave nearly identical results while meizothrombin in some regions more closely resembled active thrombin. Thus, cleavage of the Arg320-Ile321 peptide bond is the key to formation of the active enzyme, which involves increased dynamics of the substrate-binding loops and decreased dynamics of the catalytic site.
Project description:Trypsin-like proteases are synthesized as zymogens and activated through a mechanism that folds the active site for efficient binding and catalysis. Ligand binding to the active site is therefore a valuable source of information on the changes that accompany zymogen activation. Using the physiologically relevant transition of the clotting zymogen prothrombin to the mature protease thrombin, we show that the mechanism of ligand recognition follows selection within a pre-existing ensemble of conformations with the active site accessible (E) or inaccessible (E*) to binding. Prothrombin exists mainly in the E* conformational ensemble and conversion to thrombin produces two dominant changes: a progressive shift toward the E conformational ensemble triggered by removal of the auxiliary domains upon cleavage at R271 and a drastic drop of the rate of ligand dissociation from the active site triggered by cleavage at R320. Together, these effects produce a significant (700-fold) increase in binding affinity. Limited proteolysis reveals how the E*-E equilibrium shifts during prothrombin activation and influences exposure of the sites of cleavage at R271 and R320. These new findings on the molecular underpinnings of prothrombin activation are relevant to other zymogens with modular assembly involved in blood coagulation, complement and fibrinolysis.
Project description:Prethrombin-2 is the immediate zymogen precursor of the clotting enzyme thrombin, which is generated upon cleavage at R15 and separation of the A chain and catalytic B chain. The X-ray structure of prethrombin-2 determined in the free form at 1.9 Å resolution shows the 215-217 segment collapsed into the active site and occluding 49% of the volume available for substrate binding. Remarkably, some of the crystals harvested from the same crystallization well, under identical solution conditions, diffract to 2.2 Å resolution in the same space group but produce a structure in which the 215-217 segment moves >5 Å and occludes 24% of the volume available for substrate binding. The two alternative conformations of prethrombin-2 have the side chain of W215 relocating >9 Å within the active site and are relevant to the allosteric E*-E equilibrium of the mature enzyme. Another unanticipated feature of prethrombin-2 bears on the mechanism of prothrombin activation. R15 is found buried within the protein in ionic interactions with E14e, D14l, and E18, thereby making its exposure to solvent necessary for proteolytic attack and conversion to thrombin. On the basis of this structural observation, we constructed the E14eA/D14lA/E18A triple mutant to reduce the level of electrostatic coupling with R15 and promote zymogen activation. The mutation causes prethrombin-2 to spontaneously convert to thrombin, without the need for the snake venom ecarin or the physiological prothrombinase complex.
Project description:Meizothrombin is the physiologically active intermediate generated by a single cleavage of prothrombin at R320 to separate the A and B chains. Recent evidence has suggested that meizothrombin, like thrombin, is a Na(+)-activated enzyme. In this study we present the first X-ray crystal structure of human meizothrombin desF1 solved in the presence of the active site inhibitor PPACK at 2.1 A resolution. The structure reveals a Na(+) binding site whose architecture is practically identical to that of human thrombin. Stopped-flow measurements of Na(+) binding to meizothrombin desF1 document a slow phase of fluorescence change with a k(obs) decreasing hyperbolically with increasing [Na(+)], consistent with the existence of three conformations in equilibrium, E*, E and E:Na(+), as for human thrombin. Evidence that meizothrombin exists in multiple conformations provides valuable new information for studies of the mechanism of prothrombin activation.
Project description:Thrombin is produced by the ordered action of prothrombinase on two cleavage sites in prothrombin. Meizothrombin, a proteinase precursor of thrombin, is a singly cleaved species that accumulates abundantly as an intermediate. We now show that covalent linkage of the N-terminal propiece with the proteinase domain in meizothrombin imbues it with exceptionally zymogen-like character. Meizothrombin exists in a slowly reversible equilibrium between two equally populated states, differing by as much as 140-fold in their affinity for active site-directed ligands. The distribution between the two forms, designated zymogen-like and proteinase-like, is affected by Na(+), thrombomodulin binding, or active site ligation. In rapid kinetic measurements with prothrombinase, we also show that the zymogen-like form is produced following the initial cleavage reaction and slowly equilibrates with the proteinase-like form in a previously unanticipated rate-limiting step before it can be further cleaved to thrombin. The reversible equilibration of meizothrombin between zymogen- and proteinase-like states provides new insights into its ability to selectively exhibit the anticoagulant function of thrombin and the mechanistic basis for its accumulation during prothrombin activation. Our findings also provide unexpected insights into the regulation of proteinase function and how the formation of meizothrombin may yield a long lived intermediate with an important regulatory role in coagulation.
Project description:Trypsin-like proteases are synthesized as inactive zymogens and convert to the mature form upon activation by specific enzymes, often assisted by cofactors. Central to this paradigm is that the zymogen does not convert spontaneously to the mature enzyme, which in turn does not feed back to activate its zymogen form. In the blood, the zymogens prothrombin and prethrombin-2 require the prothrombinase complex to be converted to the mature protease thrombin, which is unable to activate prothrombin or prethrombin-2. Here, we show that replacement of key residues within the activation domain causes these zymogens to spontaneously convert to thrombin. The conversion is started by the zymogen itself, which is capable of binding ligands at the active site, and is abrogated by inactivation of the catalytic residue Ser-195. The product of autoactivation is functionally and structurally equivalent to wild-type thrombin. Zymogen autoactivation is explained by conformational selection, a basic property of the trypsin fold uncovered by structural and rapid kinetics studies. Both the zymogen and protease undergo a pre-existing equilibrium between active and inactive forms. The equilibrium regulates catalytic activity in the protease and has the potential to unleash activity in the zymogen to produce autoactivation. A new strategy emerges for the facile production of enzymes through zymogen autoactivation that is broadly applicable to trypsin-like proteases of biotechnological and clinical interest.
Project description:Prothrombin activation can proceed through the intermediates meizothrombin or prethrombin-2. To assess the contributions that these 2 intermediates make to prothrombin activation in tissue factor (Tf)-activated blood, immunoassays were developed that measure the meizothrombin antithrombin (mTAT) and ?-thrombin antithrombin (?TAT) complexes. We determined that Tf-activated blood produced both ?TAT and mTAT. The presence of mTAT suggested that nonplatelet surfaces were contributing to approximately 35% of prothrombin activation. Corn trypsin inhibitor-treated blood was fractionated to yield red blood cells (RBCs), platelet-rich plasma (PRP), platelet-poor plasma (PPP), and buffy coat. Compared with blood, PRP reconstituted with PPP to a physiologic platelet concentration showed a 2-fold prolongation in the initiation phase and a marked decrease in the rate and extent of ?TAT formation. Only the addition of RBCs to PRP was capable of normalizing ?TAT generation. FACS on glycophorin A-positive cells showed that approximately 0.6% of the RBC population expresses phosphatidylserine and binds prothrombinase (FITC Xa·factor Va). These data indicate that RBCs participate in thrombin generation in Tf-activated blood, producing a membrane that supports prothrombin activation through the meizothrombin pathway.
Project description:Thrombin is generated enzymatically from prothrombin by two pathways with the intermediates of meizothrombin and prethrombin-2. Experimental concentration profiles from two independent groups for these two pathways have been re-analyzed. By rationally combining the independent data sets, a simple mechanism can be established and rate constants determined. A structural model is consistent with the data-derived finding that mechanisms that feature channeling or ratcheting are not necessary to describe thrombin production.
Project description:The zymogen prothrombin is composed of fragment 1 containing a Gla domain and kringle-1, fragment 2 containing kringle-2, and a protease domain containing A and B chains. The prothrombinase complex assembled on the surface of platelets converts prothrombin to thrombin by cleaving at Arg-271 and Arg-320. The three-dimensional architecture of prothrombin and the molecular basis of its activation remain elusive. Here we report the first x-ray crystal structure of prothrombin as a Gla-domainless construct carrying an Ala replacement of the catalytic Ser-525. Prothrombin features a conformation 80 Å long, with fragment 1 positioned at a 36° angle relative to the main axis of fragment 2 coaxial to the protease domain. High flexibility of the linker connecting the two kringles suggests multiple arrangements for kringle-1 relative to the rest of the prothrombin molecule. Luminescence resonance energy transfer measurements detect two distinct conformations of prothrombin in solution, in a 3:2 ratio, with the distance between the two kringles either fully extended (54 ± 2 Å) or partially collapsed (?34 Å) as seen in the crystal structure. A molecular mechanism of prothrombin activation emerges from the structure. Of the two sites of cleavage, Arg-271 is located in a disordered region connecting kringle-2 to the A chain, but Arg-320 is well defined within the activation domain and is not accessible to proteolysis in solution. Burial of Arg-320 prevents prothrombin autoactivation and directs prothrombinase to cleave at Arg-271 first. Reversal of the local electrostatic potential then redirects prothrombinase toward Arg-320, leading to thrombin generation via the prethrombin-2 intermediate.