Propeptides are sufficient to regulate organelle-specific pH-dependent activation of furin and proprotein convertase 1/3.
ABSTRACT: The proprotein convertases (PCs) furin and proprotein convertase 1/3 (PC1) cleave substrates at dibasic residues along the eukaryotic secretory/endocytic pathway. PCs are evolutionarily related to bacterial subtilisin and are synthesized as zymogens. They contain N-terminal propeptides (PRO) that function as dedicated catalysts that facilitate folding and regulate activation of cognate proteases through multiple-ordered cleavages. Previous studies identified a histidine residue (His69) that functions as a pH sensor in the propeptide of furin (PRO(FUR)), which regulates furin activation at pH~6.5 within the trans-Golgi network. Although this residue is conserved in the PC1 propeptide (PRO(PC1)), PC1 nonetheless activates at pH~5.5 within the dense core secretory granules. Here, we analyze the mechanism by which PRO(FUR) regulates furin activation and examine why PRO(FUR) and PRO(PC1) differ in their pH-dependent activation. Sequence analyses establish that while both PRO(FUR) and PRO(PC1) are enriched in histidines when compared with cognate catalytic domains and prokaryotic orthologs, histidine content in PRO(FUR) is ~2-fold greater than that in PRO(PC1), which may augment its pH sensitivity. Spectroscopy and molecular dynamics establish that histidine protonation significantly unfolds PRO(FUR) when compared to PRO(PC1) to enhance autoproteolysis. We further demonstrate that PRO(FUR) and PRO(PC1) are sufficient to confer organelle sensing on folding and activation of their cognate proteases. Swapping propeptides between furin and PC1 transfers pH-dependent protease activation in a propeptide-dictated manner in vitro and in cells. Since prokaryotes lack organelles and eukaryotic PCs evolved from propeptide-dependent, not propeptide-independent prokaryotic subtilases, our results suggest that histidine enrichment may have enabled propeptides to evolve to exploit pH gradients to activate within specific organelles.
Project description:The propeptides of proprotein convertases (PCs) regulate activation of cognate protease domains by sensing pH of their organellar compartments as they transit the secretory pathway. Earlier experimental work identified a conserved histidine-encoded pH sensor within the propeptide of the canonical PC, furin. To date, whether protonation of this conserved histidine is solely responsible for PC activation has remained unclear because of the observation that various PC paralogues are activated at different organellar pH values. To ascertain additional determinants of PC activation, we analyzed PC1/3, a paralogue of furin that is activated at a pH of ∼5.4. Using biophysical, biochemical, and cell-based methods, we mimicked the protonation status of various histidines within the propeptide of PC1/3 and examined how such alterations can modulate pH-dependent protease activation. Our results indicate that whereas the conserved histidine plays a crucial role in pH sensing and activation of this protease an additional histidine acts as a "gatekeeper" that fine-tunes the sensitivity of the PC1/3 propeptide to facilitate the release inhibition at higher proton concentrations when compared with furin. Coupled with earlier analyses that highlighted the enrichment of the amino acid histidine within propeptides of secreted eukaryotic proteases, our work elucidates how secreted proteases have evolved to exploit the pH of the secretory pathway by altering the spatial juxtaposition of titratable groups to regulate their activity in a spatiotemporal fashion.
Project description:Proprotein convertases (PCs) are Ca(2+)-dependent serine proteases of the subtilisin/kexin family which are known specifically to cleave propeptide and proprotein substrates at the C-terminal of R-X-(K/R)-R/ to generate the relevant biologically active peptides. PCs are initially synthesized as enzymically inactive proenzyme forms where the prosegments play an important inhibitory role to the respective enzymes. Here we investigated whether synthetic peptides derived from the pro-region could also represent specific and potent inhibitors. Based upon sequence alignment, secondary structure analysis and hydrophilicity plot, a number of peptides ranging from 8 to 33 residues were selected. These included segments encompassing residues 55-62, 50-62, 39-62, 50-83, 55-83, 64-83 and 74-83 in the pro-mouse PC1/3 sequence and residues 54-62, 48-62 and 39-62 of the pro-human furin sequence. All peptides were prepared by solid-phase FastMoc chemistry, purified by reversed-phase HPLC and characterized by MS and amino acid analysis. These peptides were tested in vitro for inhibitory activity towards recombinant mouse PC1/3 and human furin. Progress-curve and end-time kinetic analysis demonstrated that a number of these peptides, particularly those containing both the primary and the secondary processing sites, displayed strong inhibition of both enzymes with inhibition constants (K (i)) in the high nanomolar range. Unlike the whole propeptide, these small synthetic peptide inhibitors exhibited either true competitive or mixed competitive inhibition, depending on the sequence. Our data revealed further the critical role of the last two basic amino acid residues (e.g. Lys(82)-Arg(83) for the mouse PC1/3 sequence) of the prodomain in imparting a strong anti-convertase activity. The study also establishes the inhibitory potential of certain regions contained within the prosegment of the two convertases.
Project description:Eukaryotic cells maintain strict control over protein secretion, in part by using the pH gradient maintained within their secretory pathway. How eukaryotic proteins evolved from prokaryotic orthologs to exploit the pH gradient for biological functions remains a fundamental question in cell biology. Our laboratory previously demonstrated that protein domains located within precursor proteins, propeptides, encode histidine-driven pH sensors to regulate organelle-specific activation of the eukaryotic proteases furin and proprotein convertase-1/3. Similar findings have been reported in other unrelated protease families. By analyzing >10,000 unique proteases within evolutionarily unrelated families, we show that eukaryotic propeptides are enriched in histidines compared with prokaryotic orthologs. On this basis, we hypothesize that eukaryotic proteins evolved to enrich histidines within their propeptides to exploit the tightly controlled pH gradient of the secretory pathway, thereby regulating activation within specific organelles. Enrichment of histidines in propeptides may therefore be used to predict the presence of pH sensors in other proteases or even protease substrates.
Project description:The proprotein convertase furin requires the pH gradient of the secretory pathway to regulate its multistep, compartment-specific autocatalytic activation. Although His-69 within the furin prodomain serves as the pH sensor that detects transport of the propeptide-enzyme complex to the trans-Golgi network, where it promotes cleavage and release of the inhibitory propeptide, a mechanistic understanding of how His-69 protonation mediates furin activation remains unclear. Here we employ biophysical, biochemical, and computational approaches to elucidate the mechanism underlying the pH-dependent activation of furin. Structural analyses and binding experiments comparing the wild-type furin propeptide with a nonprotonatable His-69 → Leu mutant that blocks furin activation in vivo revealed protonation of His-69 reduces both the thermodynamic stability of the propeptide as well as its affinity for furin at pH 6.0. Structural modeling combined with mathematical modeling and molecular dynamic simulations suggested that His-69 does not directly contribute to the propeptide-enzyme interface but, rather, triggers movement of a loop region in the propeptide that modulates access to the cleavage site and, thus, allows for the tight pH regulation of furin activation. Our work establishes a mechanism by which His-69 functions as a pH sensor that regulates compartment-specific furin activation and provides insights into how other convertases and proteases may regulate their precise spatiotemporal activation.
Project description:Prokaryotic subtilisins and eukaryotic proprotein convertases (PCs) are two homologous protease subfamilies that belong to the larger ubiquitous super-family called subtilases. Members of the subtilase super-family are produced as zymogens wherein their propeptide domains function as dedicated intramolecular chaperones (IMCs) that facilitate correct folding and regulate precise activation of their cognate catalytic domains. The molecular and cellular determinants that modulate IMC-dependent folding and activation of PCs are poorly understood. In this chapter we review what we have learned from the folding and activation of prokaryotic subtilisin, discuss how this has molded our understanding of furin maturation, and foray into the concept of pH sensors, which may represent a paradigm that PCs (and possibly other IMC-dependent eukaryotic proteins) follow for regulating their biological functions using the pH gradient in the secretory pathway.
Project description:Bone morphogenetic protein 10 (BMP10) is a member of the TGF-? superfamily and plays a critical role in heart development. In the postnatal heart, BMP10 is restricted to the right atrium. The inactive pro-BMP10 (?60 kDa) is processed into active BMP10 (?14 kDa) by an unknown protease. Proteolytic cleavage occurs at the RIRR(316)? site (human), suggesting the involvement of proprotein convertase(s) (PCs). In vitro digestion of a 12-mer peptide encompassing the predicted cleavage site with furin, PACE4, PC5/6, and PC7, showed that furin cleaves the best, whereas PC7 is inactive on this peptide. Ex vivo studies in COS-1 cells, a cell line lacking PC5/6, revealed efficient processing of pro-BMP10 by endogenous PCs other than PC5/6. The lack of processing of overexpressed pro-BMP10 in the furin- and PACE4-deficient cell line, CHO-FD11, and in furin-deficient LoVo cells, was restored by stable (CHO-FD11/Fur cells) or transient (LoVo cells) expression of furin. Use of cell-permeable and cell surface inhibitors suggested that endogenous PCs process pro-BMP10 mostly intracellularly, but also at the cell surface. Ex vivo experiments in mouse primary hepatocytes (wild type, PC5/6 knock-out, and furin knock-out) corroborated the above findings that pro-BMP10 is a substrate for endogenous furin. Western blot analyses of heart right atria extracts from wild type and PACE4 knock-out adult mice showed no significant difference in the processing of pro-BMP10, implying no in vivo role of PACE4. Overall, our in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo data suggest that furin is the major convertase responsible for the generation of BMP10.
Project description:The folding and activation of furin occur through two pH- and compartment-specific autoproteolytic steps. In the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), profurin folds under the guidance of its prodomain and undergoes an autoproteolytic excision at the consensus furin site Arg-Thr-Lys-Arg107/ generating an enzymatically masked furin-propeptide complex competent for transport to late secretory compartments. In the mildly acidic environment of the trans-Golgi network/endosomal system, the bound propeptide is cleaved at the internal site 69HRGVTKR75/, unmasking active furin capable of cleaving substrates in trans. Here, by using cellular, biochemical, and modeling studies, we demonstrate that the conserved His69 is a pH sensor that regulates the compartment-specific cleavages of the propeptide. In the ER, unprotonated His69 stabilizes a solvent-accessible hydrophobic pocket necessary for autoproteolytic excision at Arg107. Profurin molecules unable to form the hydrophobic pocket, and hence, the furin-propeptide complex, are restricted to the ER by a PACS-2- and COPI-dependent mechanism. Once exposed to the acidic pH of the late secretory pathway, protonated His69 disrupts the hydrophobic pocket, resulting in exposure and cleavage of the internal cleavage site at Arg75 to unmask the enzyme. Together, our data explain the pH-regulated activation of furin and how this His-dependent regulatory mechanism is a model for other proteins.
Project description:The proprotein convertases (PCs) participate in the limited proteolysis of integrin alpha4 subunit at the H(592)VISKR(597) downward arrow ST site (where underlined residues indicate positively charged amino acids important for PC-mediated cleavage and downward arrow indicates the cleavage site), since this cleavage is inhibited by the serpin alpha1-PDX (alpha1-antitrypsin Portland). Co-expression of alpha4 with each convertase in LoVo (furin-deficient human colon carcinoma) cells revealed that furin and proprotein convertase 5A (PC5A) are the best pro-alpha4 convertases. In agreement, processing of endogenous pro-alpha4 in human lymphoblastoid CEM-T4 cells was enhanced greatly in stable transfectants overexpressing either enzyme. In many leucocyte cell lines, the expression of furin closely correlated with the endogenous processing efficacy, suggesting that furin is a candidate pro-alpha4 convertase. Mutational analysis showed that replacement of P1 Arg(597) with alanine (R597A) abrogated cleavage, whereas the P6 mutant H592R is even better processed by the endogenous convertases of Chinese-hamster ovary CHO-K1 cells. In vitro kinetic studies using synthetic peptides confirmed the importance of a positively charged residue at P6 and showed that wild-type alpha4 processing is performed best by furin and PC5A at acidic and neutral pHs, respectively. Biosynthetic analysis of pro-alpha4 and its H592R and H592K mutants in the presence or absence of the weak base, NH(4)Cl, revealed that the P6 histidine residue renders its processing by furin sensitive to cellular pH. This suggests that pro-alpha4 cleavage occurs preferentially in acidic compartments. In conclusion, although the accepted furin processing motif is Arg-Xaa-(Lys/Arg)-Arg downward arrow, our data further extend it to include a regulatory histidine residue at P6 in precursors that lack a basic residue at P4.
Project description:Furin belongs to the family of proprotein convertases (PCs) and is involved in numerous normal physiological and pathogenic processes, such as viral propagation, bacterial toxin activation, cancer, and metastasis. Furin and related furin-like PCs cleave their substrates at characteristic multibasic consensus sequences, preferentially after an arginine residue. By incorporating decarboxylated arginine mimetics in the P1 position of substrate analogue peptidic inhibitors, we could identify highly potent furin inhibitors. The most potent compound, phenylacetyl-Arg-Val-Arg-4-amidinobenzylamide (15), inhibits furin with a K(i) value of 0.81 nM and has also comparable affinity to other PCs like PC1/3, PACE4, and PC5/6, whereas PC2 and PC7 or trypsin-like serine proteases were poorly affected. In fowl plague virus (influenza A, H7N1)-infected MDCK cells, inhibitor 15 inhibited proteolytic hemagglutinin cleavage and was able to reduce virus propagation in a long-term infection test. Molecular modeling revealed several key interactions of the 4-amidinobenzylamide residue in the S1 pocket of furin contributing to the excellent affinity of these inhibitors.
Project description:Protein C, a secretory vitamin K-dependent anticoagulant serine protease, inactivates factors Va/VIIIa. It is exclusively synthesized in liver hepatocytes as an inactive zymogen (proprotein C). In humans, thrombin cleavage of the propeptide at PR221↓ results in activated protein C (APC; residues 222-461). However, the propeptide is also cleaved by a furin-like proprotein convertase(s) (PCs) at KKRSHLKR199↓ (underlined basic residues critical for the recognition by PCs), but the order of cleavage is unknown. Herein, we present evidence that at the surface of COS-1 cells, mouse proprotein C is first cleaved by the convertases furin, PC5/6A, and PACE4. In mice, this cleavage occurs at the equivalent site, KKRKILKR198↓, and requires the presence of Arg198 at P1 and a combination of two other basic residues at either P2 (Lys197), P6 (Arg193), or P8 (Lys191) positions. Notably, the thrombin-resistant R221A mutant is still cleaved by these PCs, revealing that convertase cleavage can precede thrombin activation. This conclusion was supported by the fact that the APC-specific activity in the medium of COS-1 cells is exclusively dependent on prior cleavage by the convertases, because both R198A and R221A lack protein C activity. Primary cultures of hepatocytes derived from wild-type or hepatocyte-specific furin, PC5/6, or complete PACE4 knock-out mice suggested that the cleavage of overexpressed proprotein C is predominantly performed by furin intracellularly and by all three proprotein convertases at the cell surface. Indeed, plasma analyses of single-proprotein convertase-knock-out mice showed that loss of the convertase furin or PC5/6 in hepatocytes results in a ∼30% decrease in APC levels, with no significant contribution from PACE4. We conclude that prior convertase cleavage of protein C in hepatocytes is critical for its thrombin activation.