Antiprotease targeting : altered specificity of α1-antitrypsin by amino acid replacement at the reactive centre
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Alpha-1 antitrypsin (alpha 1AT) is an efficient inhibitor of the human neutrophil proteases, elastase and cathepsin G. The reactive centre P1 residue (Met358) of alpha 1AT is important in defining the specificity of inhibition; furthermore, oxidation of this residue results in a loss of inhibitor activity. There is evidence that oxidative inactivation of alpha 1AT may be involved in the pathogenesis of pulmonary emphysema associated with cigarette smoking. We have studied the effect of a series of amino acid replacements at the active centre on the inhibition properties of alpha 1AT. The mutant proteins were produced in E. coli following in vitro mutagenesis of the alpha 1AT cDNA. Alpha-1-AT (Ile358), (Ala358) and (Val358) were efficient inhibitors of both neutrophil and pancreatic elastase, but not cathepsin G. Alpha-1-AT (Ala356, Val358) and alpha 1AT (Phe358) were specific for pancreatic elastase and cathepsin G respectively. Alpha-1-AT (Leu358) inhibited both neutrophil elastase and cathepsin G. These data show that, for effective inhibition, a potential cleavage site for the protease must be displayed at the alpha 1AT active centre. In each case, replacement of Met358 led to resistance to oxidative inactivation. Since alpha 1AT (Leu358) inhibits both neutrophil proteases and is resistant to oxidation, this variant may be of increased potential for the therapy of destructive lung disorders.