Activation of matrix metalloproteinase zymogen (pro-MMP) is a vital homeostatic process, yet its molecular basis remains unresolved. Using stopped-flow X-ray spectroscopy of the active site zinc ion, we determined the temporal sequence of pro-MMP-9 activation catalyzed by tissue kallikrein protease in milliseconds to several minutes. The identity of three intermediates seen by X-ray spectroscopy was corroborated by molecular dynamics simulations and quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics calculations. The cysteine-zinc interaction that maintains enzyme latency is disrupted via active-site proton transfers that mediate transient metal-protein coordination events and eventual binding of water. Unexpectedly, these events ensue as a direct result of complexation of pro-MMP-9 and kallikrein and occur before proteolysis and eventual dissociation of the pro-peptide from the catalytic site. Here we demonstrate the synergism among long-range protein conformational transitions, local structural rearrangements, and fine atomic events in the process of zymogen activation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry