Streptokinase (SK) is a human plasminogen (Pg) activator secreted by streptococci. The activation mechanism of SK differs from that of physiological Pg activators in that SK is not a protease and cannot proteolytically activate Pg. Instead, it forms a tight complex with Pg that proteolytically activates other Pg molecules. The residue Lys-698 of human Pg was hypothesized to participate in triggering activation in the SK-Pg complex. Here, we report a study of the Lys-698 to Met substitution in the catalytic domain of Pg (microPg) containing the proteolytic activation-resistant background (R561A). While it remains competent in forming a complex with SK, maintaining a comparable equilibration dissociation constant (K(D)), the recombinant protein shows a nearly 60-fold reduction in amidolytic activity relative to its R561A background when mixed with native SK. A 2.3 A crystal structure of this mutant microPg confirmed the correct folding of this recombinant protein. Combined with other biochemical data, these results support the premise that Lys-698 of human Pg plays a functional role in the so-called N-terminal insertion activation mechanism by SK.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.