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1 August 2004 Atypical Kunitz-Type Serine Proteinase Inhibitors Produced by the Ruminant Placenta
James A. MacLean, R. Michael Roberts, Jonathan A. Green
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Recently, an unusual family of genes was identified with expression confined to the trophoblast of ruminant ungulate species. The members of this family (the trophoblast Kunitz domain proteins, or TKDPs) are characterized by the presence of one or more similar, approximately 80-residue repeat sequences placed ahead of a Kunitz serine proteinase-inhibitor domain. To examine the specificity of the Kunitz moiety, the Kunitz domains of selected TKDPs and a control Kunitz protein, bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (BPTI), were produced as glutathione S-transferase fusions, and their abilities to inhibit six serine proteinases were examined. Circular dichroism spectroscopy confirmed that the Kunitz fold was intact. Three of the TKDPs had unusual residues at their P1 “warhead” (ovine TKDP-1, Asn; bovine TKDP-3, Thr; and bovine TKDP-5, Ile) and exhibited no measurable inhibitory activity toward any of the proteinases. Three (ovine TKDP-3, bovine TKDP-3, and bovine TKDP-4) lacked the conserved cysteines at residues 14 and 38 that form one of the highly conserved disulfide bonds that are structurally important in all known mammalian Kunitz proteins. Ovine TKDP-3 and bovine TKDP-4 had P1 lysines and inhibited trypsin and plasmin with Ki values only approximately 10-fold higher than that of BPTI. Bovine TKDP-2 had a P1 lysine and the three conserved disulfides, but it possessed an unusual residue (Asp) at P2. It exhibited no inhibitory activity. These data suggest that the function of the TKDP, like certain Kunitz proteins found in snake venoms, may not be in proteinase inhibition.

James A. MacLean, R. Michael Roberts, and Jonathan A. Green "Atypical Kunitz-Type Serine Proteinase Inhibitors Produced by the Ruminant Placenta," Biology of Reproduction 71(2), 455-463, (1 August 2004).
Received: 25 November 2003; Accepted: 1 March 2004; Published: 1 August 2004
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