Mirolysin, a LysargiNase fromTannerella forsythia, proteolytically inactivates the human cathelicidin, LL-37

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Tannerella forsythia is a periodontal pathogen expressing six secretory proteolytic enzymes with a unique multidomain structure referred to as KLIKK proteases. Two of these proteases, karilysin and mirolysin, were previously shown to protect the bacterium against complement-mediated bactericidal activity. The latter metalloprotease, however, was not characterized at the protein level. Therefore, we purified recombinant mirolysin and subjected it to detailed biochemical characterization. Mirolysin was obtained as a 66 kDa zymogen, which autoproteolytically processed itself into a 31 kDa active form via truncations at both the N- and C-termini. Further autodegradation was prevented by calcium. Substrate specificity was determined by the S1′ subsite of the substrate-binding pocket, which shows strong preference for Arg and Lys at the carbonyl side of a scissile peptide bond (P1′ residue). The protease cleaved an array of host proteins, including human fibronectin, fibrinogen, complement proteins C3, C4, and C5, and the antimicrobial peptide, LL-37. Degradation of LL-37 abolished not only the bactericidal activity of the peptide, but also its ability to bind lipopolysaccharide (LPS), thus quenching the endotoxin proinflammatory activity. Taken together, these results indicate that, through cleavage of LL-37 and complement proteins, mirolysin might be involved in evasion of the host immune response.

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