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Structure of granzyme C reveals an unusual mechanism of protease autoinhibition

By Dion Kaiserman, Ashley M. Buckle, Petra Van Damme, James A. Irving, Ruby H. P. Law, Antony Y. Matthews, Tanya Bashtannyk-Puhalovich, Chris Langendorf, Philip Thompson, Joël Vandekerckhove, Kris Gevaert, James C. Whisstock and Phillip I. Bird


Proteases act in important homeostatic pathways and are tightly regulated. Here, we report an unusual structural mechanism of regulation observed by the 2.5-Å X-ray crystal structure of the serine protease, granzyme C. Although the active-site triad residues adopt canonical conformations, the oxyanion hole is improperly formed, and access to the primary specificity (S1) pocket is blocked through a reversible rearrangement involving Phe-191. Specifically, a register shift in the 190-strand preceding the active-site serine leads to Phe-191 filling the S1 pocket. Mutation of a unique Glu–Glu motif at positions 192–193 unlocks the enzyme, which displays chymase activity, and proteomic analysis confirms that activity of the wild-type protease can be released through interactions with an appropriate substrate. The 2.5-Å structure of the unlocked enzyme reveals unprecedented flexibility in the 190-strand preceding the active-site serine that results in Phe-191 vacating the S1 pocket. Overall, these observations describe a broadly applicable mechanism of protease regulation that cannot be predicted by template-based modeling or bioinformatic approaches alone

Topics: Biological Sciences
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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