Clearance and binding of two electrophoretic "fast" forms of human alpha 2-macroglobulin.
These studies explore the role of conformational change and exposed carbohydrate residues in the clearance of alpha 2-macroglobulin-trypsin (alpha 2M-T) complexes in the mouse. Human alpha 2-macroglobulin (alpha 2M) was purified and demonstrated to be homogeneous in the electrophoretic "slow" form. Two conformationally altered derivatives, alpha 2M-T and alpha 2-macroglobulin-methylamine (alpha 2M-MeNH2), were prepared and demonstrated to exist in the electrophoretic "fast" form. Radiolabeled alpha 2M-T and alpha 2M-MeNH2 were cleared rapidly with a half-life of 2-4 min following injection into mice. Radiolabeled native alpha 2M, however, remained in the circulation with a half-life of several hours. Both alpha 2M-T and alpha 2M-MeNH2 bound specifically to mouse peritoneal macrophages at 4 degrees C and occupancy of receptor sites increased with increasing time and radioligand concentration. Excess amounts of unlabeled alpha 2M-T or alpha 2M-MeNH2 cross-completed with trace amounts of the other in both clearance studies and binding assays, indicating that both derivatives were removed by the same receptor pathway. The clearance and binding of alpha 2M-T and alpha 2M-MeNH2 were not inhibited by excess amounts of unlabeled asialoorosomucoid, fucosyl-bovine serum albumin, mannosyl-BSA, or N-acetylglucosaminyl-BSA. Our results indicate that the clearance pathway removing alpha 2M-T complexes from the circulation recognizes a fundamental conformational change in alpha 2M secondary to protease binding, which can also be induced by exposure to methylamine. Therefore, other chemical or physical alterations that occur in alpha 2M upon binding trypsin, apart from the conformational change also present in alpha 2M-MeNH2, do not seem necessary for the recognition of alpha 2M-T by cells in the clearance pathway. In addition, this pathway appears distinct from several systems already described mediating clearance of glycoproteins through recognition of terminal galactose, fucose, N-acetylglucosamine, or mannose on oligosaccharide side chains.
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