Reactive Center Loop (RCL) Peptides Derived from Serpins Display Independent Coagulation and Immune Modulating Activities

J Biol Chem. 2016 Feb 5;291(6):2874-87. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M115.704841. Epub 2015 Nov 30.


Serpins regulate coagulation and inflammation, binding serine proteases in suicide-inhibitory complexes. Target proteases cleave the serpin reactive center loop scissile P1-P1' bond, resulting in serpin-protease suicide-inhibitory complexes. This inhibition requires a near full-length serpin sequence. Myxomavirus Serp-1 inhibits thrombolytic and thrombotic proteases, whereas mammalian neuroserpin (NSP) inhibits only thrombolytic proteases. Both serpins markedly reduce arterial inflammation and plaque in rodent models after single dose infusion. In contrast, Serp-1 but not NSP improves survival in a lethal murine gammaherpesvirus68 (MHV68) infection in interferon γ-receptor-deficient mice (IFNγR(-/-)). Serp-1 has also been successfully tested in a Phase 2a clinical trial. We postulated that proteolytic cleavage of the reactive center loop produces active peptide derivatives with expanded function. Eight peptides encompassing predicted protease cleavage sites for Serp-1 and NSP were synthesized and tested for inhibitory function in vitro and in vivo. In engrafted aorta, selected peptides containing Arg or Arg-Asn, not Arg-Met, with a 0 or +1 charge, significantly reduced plaque. Conversely, S-6 a hydrophobic peptide of NSP, lacking Arg or Arg-Asn with -4 charge, induced early thrombosis and mortality. S-1 and S-6 also significantly reduced CD11b(+) monocyte counts in mouse splenocytes. S-1 peptide had increased efficacy in plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 serpin-deficient transplants. Plaque reduction correlated with mononuclear cell activation. In a separate study, Serp-1 peptide S-7 improved survival in the MHV68 vasculitis model, whereas an inverse S-7 peptide was inactive. Reactive center peptides derived from Serp-1 and NSP with suitable charge and hydrophobicity have the potential to extend immunomodulatory functions of serpins.

Keywords: artery; herpesvirus; inflammation; monocyte; peptides; pox viruses; reactive center loop; serpin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Coagulation / drug effects*
  • Blood Coagulation / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Herpesviridae Infections / drug therapy
  • Herpesviridae Infections / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors* / chemical synthesis
  • Immunologic Factors* / chemistry
  • Immunologic Factors* / immunology
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Membrane Proteins* / chemical synthesis
  • Membrane Proteins* / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins* / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Peptides* / chemical synthesis
  • Peptides* / chemistry
  • Peptides* / pharmacology
  • Rhadinovirus / immunology*
  • Vasculitis / drug therapy
  • Vasculitis / immunology*


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Peptides
  • Serp1 protein, mouse

Associated data

  • PDB/1DB2
  • PDB/2B4X
  • PDB/3F5N
  • PDB/4DTE