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García Diaz, Beatriz; Gross, Stefan; Assfalg-Machleidt, Irmgard; Pfeiler, Dietmar; Gollmitzer, Nicole; Gabrijelcic-Geiger, Dusica; Stubbs, Milton T.; Fritz, Hans; Auerswald, Ennes A.; Machleidt, Werner (2001): Cystatins as calpain inhibitors: Engineered chicken cystatin- and stefin B-kininogen domain 2 hybrids support a cystatin-like mode of interaction with the catalytic subunit of μ-calpain. In: Biological Chemistry, Vol. 382, No. 1: pp. 97-107


Within the cystatin superfamily, only kininogen domain 2 (KD2) is able to inhibit μ- and m-calpain. In an attempt to elucidate the structural requirements of cystatins for calpain inhibition, we constructed recombinant hybrids of human stefin B (an intracellular family 1 cystatin) with KD2 and Delta L110 deletion mutants of chicken cystatin-KD2 hybrids. Substitution of the N-terminal contact region of stefin B by the corresponding KD2 sequence resulted in a calpain inhibitor of K-i = 188 nM. Deletion of L110, which forms a beta -bulge in family 1 and 2 cystatins but is lacking in KD2, improved inhibition of mu -calpain 4- to 8-fold. All engineered cystatins were temporary inhibitors of calpain due to slow substrate-like cleavage of a single peptide bond corresponding to Gly9-Ala10 in chicken cystatin. Biomolecular interaction analysis revealed that, unlike calpastatin, the cystatin-type inhibitors do not bind to the calmodulin-like domain of the small subunit of calpain, and their interaction with the mu -calpain heterodimer is completely prevented by a synthetic peptide comprising subdomain B of calpastatin domain 1. Based on these results we propose that (i) cystatin-type calpain inhibitors interact with the active site of the catalytic domain of calpain in a similar cystatin-like mode as with papain and (ii) the potential for calpain inhibition is due to specific subsites within the papain-binding regions of the general cystatin fold.