Characterization of an Extensive Interface on Vitronectin for Binding to Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1: Adoption of Structure in an Intrinsically Disordered Region

Biochemistry. 2019 Dec 24;58(51):5117-5134. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.9b00605. Epub 2019 Dec 16.


Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) measurements were pursued to study human vitronectin, a protein found in tissues and the circulation that regulates cell adhesion/migration and proteolytic cascades that govern hemostasis and pericellular proteolysis. Many of these functions occur via interactions with its binding partner, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), the chief inhibitor of proteases that lyse and activate plasminogen. We focused on a region of vitronectin that remains uncharacterized from previous X-ray scattering, nuclear magnetic resonance, and computational modeling approaches and which we propose is involved in binding to PAI-1. This region, which bridges the N-terminal somatomedin B (SMB) domain with a large central β-propeller domain of vitronectin, appears unstructured and has characteristics of an intrinsically disordered domain (IDD). The effect of osmolytes was evaluated using circular dichroism and SANS to explore the potential of the IDD to undergo a disorder-to-order transition. The results suggest that the IDD favors a more ordered structure under osmotic pressure; SANS shows a smaller radius of gyration (Rg) and a more compact fold of the IDD upon addition of osmolytes. To test whether PAI-1 binding is also coupled to folding within the IDD structure, a set of SANS experiments with contrast variation were performed on the complex of PAI-1 with a vitronectin fragment corresponding to the N-terminal 130 amino acids (denoted the SMB-IDD because it contains the SMB domain and IDD in linear sequence). Analysis of the SANS data using the Ensemble Optimization Method confirms that the SMB-IDD adopts a more compact configuration when bound to PAI-1. Calculated structures for the PAI-1:SMB-IDD complex suggest that the IDD provides an interaction surface outside of the primary PAI-1-binding site located within the SMB domain; this binding is proposed to lead to the assembly of higher-order structures of vitronectin and PAI-1 commonly found in tissues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Intrinsically Disordered Proteins / chemistry*
  • Intrinsically Disordered Proteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Domains
  • Vitronectin / chemistry*
  • Vitronectin / metabolism*


  • Intrinsically Disordered Proteins
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1
  • Vitronectin