Lysine 156 promotes the anomalous proenzyme activity of tPA: X-ray crystal structure of single-chain human tPA

EMBO J. 1997 Aug 15;16(16):4797-805. doi: 10.1093/emboj/16.16.4797.


Tissue type plasminogen activator (tPA) is the physiological initiator of fibrinolysis, activating plasminogen via highly specific proteolysis; plasmin then degrades fibrin with relatively broad specificity. Unlike other chymotrypsin family serine proteinases, tPA is proteolytically active in a single-chain form. This form is also preferred for therapeutic administration of tPA in cases of acute myocardial infarction. The proteolytic cleavage which activates most other chymotrypsin family serine proteinases increases the catalytic efficiency of tPA only 5- to 10-fold. The X-ray crystal structure of the catalytic domain of recombinant human single-chain tPA shows that Lys156 forms a salt bridge with Asp194, promoting an active conformation in the single-chain form. Comparisons with the structures of other serine proteinases that also possess Lys156, such as trypsin, factor Xa and human urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), identify a set of secondary interactions which are required for Lys156 to fulfil this activating role. These findings help explain the anomalous single-chain activity of tPA and may suggest strategies for design of new therapeutic plasminogen activators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Chloromethyl Ketones / chemistry
  • Amino Acid Chloromethyl Ketones / metabolism
  • Aspartic Acid / chemistry
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Binding Sites
  • Chymotrypsinogen / chemistry
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Dansyl Compounds / chemistry
  • Dansyl Compounds / metabolism
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Humans
  • Lysine / chemistry*
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Plasminogen Activators / chemistry
  • Plasminogen Activators / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Serine Endopeptidases / chemistry
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Serine Proteinase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Serine Proteinase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / chemistry*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / genetics
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / metabolism*


  • Amino Acid Chloromethyl Ketones
  • Dansyl Compounds
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Serine Proteinase Inhibitors
  • Aspartic Acid
  • dansylglutamyl-glycyl-arginine chloromethyl ketone
  • Chymotrypsinogen
  • Plasminogen Activators
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator
  • Lysine