National Research Council of Italy

Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources

Isolation and characterization of novel variants of BBI coding genes from the legume Lathyrus sativus

De Paola D, Blanco E, Pierri CL, Sonnante G

Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 57: 45-53.
doi: 10.1016/j.plaphy.2012.05.001

A pool of twelve cDNA sequences coding for Bowman-Birk inhibitors (BBIs) was identified in the legume grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.). The corresponding amino acid sequences showed a canonical first anti-trypsin domain, predicted according to the identity of the determinant residue P1. A more variable second binding loop was observed allowing to identify three groups based on the identity of residue P1: two groups (Ls_BBI_1 and Ls_BBI_2) carried a second reactive site specific for chymotrypsin, while a third group (Ls_BBI_3) was predicted to inhibit elastase. A fourth variant carrying an Asp in the P1 position of the second reactive site was identified only from genomic DNA. A phylogenetic tree constructed using grass pea BBIs with their homologs from other legume species revealed grouping based on taxonomy and on specificity of the reactive sites.Five BBI sequences, representing five different second reactive sites, were heterologously expressed in the yeast Pichia pastoris. The recombinant proteins demonstrated to be active against trypsin, while three of them were also active against chymotrypsin, and one against human leukocyte elastase. Comparative modeling and protein docking were used to further investigate interactions between two grass pea BBI isoforms and their target proteases. Thus two reliable 3D models have been proposed, representing two potential ternary complexes, each constituted of an inhibitor and its target enzymes.

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