Conformation and protease binding activity of binary and ternary human alpha 2-macroglobulin-protease complexes.
Human alpha 2-macroglobulin (alpha 2M) undergoes a conformational change after reaction with proteases. In this report, it is shown that although two trypsin molecules may bind simultaneously to each alpha 2M, only one trypsin is necessary to induce alpha 2M conformational change. Ternary complexes of alpha 2M and either two radioiodinated trypsins or two nonradioiodinated trypsins were purified by gel filtration chromatography. The nonradioactive complex did not bind 125I-trypsin, even after incubation for 24 h with the free protease present at a large molar excess. Under comparable conditions, a large molar excess of nonradioactive trypsin did not cause significant dissociation of the complex prepared with radioiodinated protease. Equations are presented that distinguish between two separate models of protease binding and demonstrate that binary alpha 2M-trypsin complex retains no significant trypsin binding activity despite the presence of a vacant protease binding site. Purified alpha 2M-plasmin complex, with 1.10 mol of plasmin/mol of inhibitor, also retained no trypsin binding activity as assessed with radioiodinated protein binding experiments. These studies suggest that reactions of alpha 2M with proteases are accurately described by the "trap hypothesis" (Barrett, A. J., and Starkey, P. M. (1973) Biochem. J. 133, 709-724) independent of protease size or binding stoichiometry.
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