Extended intermolecular interactions in a serine protease-canonical inhibitor complex account for strong and highly specific inhibition

Krisztián Fodor, Veronika Harmat, Csaba Hetényi, József Kardos, József Antal, András Perczel, András Patthy, Gergely Katona, László Gráf

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We have previously shown that a trypsin inhibitor from desert locust Schistocerca gregaria (SGTI) is a taxon-specific inhibitor that inhibits arthropod trypsins, such as crayfish trypsin, five orders of magnitude more effectively than mammalian trypsins. Thermal denaturation experiments, presented here, confirm the inhibition kinetics studies; upon addition of SGTI the melting temperatures of crayfish and bovine trypsins increased 27°C and 4.5°C, respectively. To explore the structural features responsible for this taxon specificity we crystallized natural crayfish trypsin in complex with chemically synthesized SGTI. This is the first X-ray structure of an arthropod trypsin and also the highest resolution (1.2 Å) structure of a trypsin-protein inhibitor complex reported so far. Structural data show that in addition to the primary binding loop, residues P3-P 3′ of SGTI, the interactions between SGTI and the crayfish enzyme are also extended over the P12-P4 and P 4′-P5′ regions. This is partly due to a structural change of region P10-P4 in the SGTI structure induced by binding of the inhibitor to crayfish trypsin. The comparison of SGTI-crayfish trypsin and SGTI-bovine trypsin complexes by structure-based calculations revealed a significant interaction energy surplus for the SGTI-crayfish trypsin complex distributed over the entire binding region. The new regions that account for stronger and more specific binding of SGTI to crayfish than to bovine trypsin offer new inhibitor sites to engineer in order to develop efficient and specific protease inhibitors for practical use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-169
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2005



  • Canonical inhibitor
  • NMR
  • Serine protease
  • Specificity
  • X-ray crystallography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology

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