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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Biochemistry - Hematology - Molecular Biology

The Extended Cleavage Specificity of Human Thrombin
Published: Monday, February 27, 2012
Author: Maike Gallwitz et al.

by Maike Gallwitz, Mattias Enoksson, Michael Thorpe, Lars Hellman

Thrombin is one of the most extensively studied of all proteases. Its central role in the coagulation cascade as well as several other areas has been thoroughly documented. Despite this, its consensus cleavage site has never been determined in detail. Here we have determined its extended substrate recognition profile using phage-display technology. The consensus recognition sequence was identified as, P2-Pro, P1-Arg, P1'-Ser/Ala/Gly/Thr, P2'-not acidic and P3'-Arg. Our analysis also identifies an important role for a P3'-arginine in thrombin substrates lacking a P2-proline. In order to study kinetics of this cooperative or additive effect we developed a system for insertion of various pre-selected cleavable sequences in a linker region between two thioredoxin molecules. Using this system we show that mutations of P2-Pro and P3'-Arg lead to an approximate 20-fold and 14-fold reduction, respectively in the rate of cleavage. Mutating both Pro and Arg results in a drop in cleavage of 200–400 times, which highlights the importance of these two positions for maximal substrate cleavage. Interestingly, no natural substrates display the obtained consensus sequence but represent sequences that show only 1–30% of the optimal cleavage rate for thrombin. This clearly indicates that maximal cleavage, excluding the help of exosite interactions, is not always desired, which may instead cause problems with dysregulated coagulation. It is likely exosite cooperativity has a central role in determining the specificity and rate of cleavage of many of these in vivo substrates. Major effects on cleavage efficiency were also observed for residues as far away as 4 amino acids from the cleavage site. Insertion of an aspartic acid in position P4 resulted in a drop in cleavage by a factor of almost 20 times.