Journal of Biological Chemistry vol:278 issue:26 pages:23899-905
The serpin plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) plays an important role in the regulation of the fibrinolytic activity in blood. In plasma, PAI-1 circulates mainly in the active conformation. However, PAI-1 spontaneously converts to a latent conformation. This conversion comprises drastic conformational changes in both the distal and the proximal hinge region of the reactive center loop. To study the functional and conformational rearrangements associated solely with the mobility of the proximal hinge, disulfide bonds were introduced to immobilize the distal hinge region. These mutants exhibited specific activities comparable with that of PAI-1-wt. However, the engineered disulfide bond had a major effect on the conformational and associated functional transitions. Strikingly, in contrast to PAI-1-wt, inactivation of these mutants yielded a virtually complete conversion to a substrate-like conformation. Comparison of the digestion pattern (with trypsin and elastase) of the mutants and PAI-1-wt revealed that the inactivated mutants have a conformation differing from that of latent and active PAI-1-wt. Unique trypsin-susceptible cleavage sites arose upon inactivation of these mutants. The localization of these exposed residues provides evidence that a displacement of alphahF has occurred, indicating that the proximal hinge is partly inserted between s3A and s5A. In conclusion, immobilization of the distal hinge region in PAI-1 allowed the identification of an "intermediate" conformation characterized by a partial insertion of the proximal hinge region. We hypothesize that locking PAI-1 in this transition state between active and latent conformations is associated with a displacement of alphahF, subsequently resulting in substrate behavior.