A carboxypeptidase inhibitor from the medical leech Hirudo medicinalis: Isolation, sequence analysis, cDNA cloning, recombinant expression, and characterization

David Reverter, Josep Vendrell, Francesc Canals, Jeanny Horstmann, Francesc X. Avilés, Hans Fritz, Christian P. Sommerhoff

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Abstract

A novel metallocarboxypeptidase inhibitor was isolated from the medical leech Hirudo medicinalis. Amino acid sequence analysis provided a nearly complete primary structure. which was subsequently verified and completed by cDNA cloning using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction/rapid amplification of cDNA end techniques. The inhibitor, called LCI (leech carboxypeptidase inhibitor), is a cysteine-rich polypeptide composed of 66 amino acid residues. It does not show sequence similarity to any other protein except at its C-terminal end. In this region, the inhibitor shares the amino acid sequence -Thr-Cys-X-Pro-Tyr-Val-X with Solanacea carboxypeptidase inhibitors, suggesting a similar mechanism of inhibition where the C-terminal tail of the inhibitor interacts with the active center of metallocarboxypeptidases in a substrate-like manner. This hypothesis is supported by the hydrolytic release of the C-terminal glutamic acid residue of LCI after binding to the enzyme. Heterologous overexpression of LCI in Escherichia coli, either into the medium or as an intracellular thioredoxin fusion protein, yields a protein with full inhibitory activity. Both in the natural and recombinant forms, LCI is a tightly binding, competitive inhibitor of different types of pancreatic-like carboxypeptidases, with equilibrium dissociation constants K(i) of 0.2-0.4 x 10-9 M for the complexes with the pancreatic enzymes A1, A2, and B and plasma carboxypeptidase B. Circular dichroism and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy analysis indicate that recombinant LCI is a compactly folded globular protein, stable to a wide range of pH and denaturing conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32927-32933
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume273
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 1998

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