The generation of plasmin by plasminogen (Pg) activators (PAs) is a physiologic process in animals that dissolves blood clots and promotes wound healing, blood vessel growth, and the migration of normal and cancerous cells. Pathogenic bacteria have evolved PAs [e.g., streptokinase (SK) and staphylokinase] that exploit the Pg system to infect animals. Animal PAs have a conserved ability to cleave a wide spectrum of animal Pgs, but the ability of bacterial PAs to cleave different animal Pgs is surprisingly restricted. We show that the spectrum of activity of an archetypal bacterial PA (SK) with animal Pgs can be profoundly altered by mutations that affect intermolecular complementarity at sites that participate in complex formation or substrate binding. Comparative sequence analysis of animal plasmins vs. close structural homologues (trypsin and chymotrypsin) that are not molecular targets for invading bacteria indicates that the sites in plasmin that interact with SK are preferentially targeted for mutation. Conversely, intermolecular contact sites in SKs that activate human Pg are more highly conserved than other loci in the molecule or than the same sites in other SKs that activate non-human Pgs. We propose that active modulation of intermolecular complementarity at sites of contact between SK and Pg may represent a competitive evolutionary strategy in a survival battle, whereby animals seek to evade bacterial invasion, and bacteria endeavor to invade their animal hosts.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - Aug 5 2003|
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