Binding of alkaloids into the S1 specificity pocket of α- chymotrypsin: Evidence from induced circular dichroism spectra

Ferenc Zsila, Judit Kámán, Borbála Bogányi, Dávid Józsvai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


Non-covalent binding of planar aromatic molecules into the S1 specificity pocket of the serine protease α-chymotrypsin (αCHT) can be detected by measuring induced circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopic signals. Utilizing this phenomenon, αCHT association of proflavine (PRF), the well known serine protease inhibitor has been investigated together with plant-derived compounds including isoquinoline, pyridocarbazole and indoloquinoline alkaloids, of which αCHT binding has never been reported. Non-degenerate exciton coupling between π-π* transitions of the ligand molecules and two tryptophan residues (Trp172 and Trp215) near to the binding site is proposed to be responsible for the induced CD activity. The association constants calculated from CD titration data indicated strong αCHT association of sanguninarine, ellipticine, desmethyl-isocryptolepine and isoneocryptolepine (Ka ≈ 105 M-1) while berberine, coptisine and chelerythrine bind to the enzyme with lower, PRF-like affinity (K a ≈ 104 M-1). PRF-trypsin and ellipticine-trypsin binding interactions have also been demonstrated. The binding of the alkaloids into the S1 pocket of αCHT has been confirmed by CD competition experiments. Molecular docking calculations showed the inclusion of PRF as well as the alkaloid molecules in the S1 cavity where they are stabilized by hydrophobic and H-bonding interactions. These novel nonpeptidic scaffolds can be used for developing selective inhibitors of serine proteases having chymotrypsin-like folds. Furthemore, the results provide a novel, CD spectroscopic based approach for probing the ligand binding of αCHT and related proteases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4127-4137
Number of pages11
JournalOrganic and Biomolecular Chemistry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 7 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry

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