Blood 1993 Sep 1;82(5):1522-31

Oxidative inactivation of plasmin and other serine proteases by copper and ascorbate.

Lind SE, McDonagh JR, Smith CJ
Experimental Medicine Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115.

Fibrin thrombi form at sites of injury, where leukocytes release a variety of oxidants. To determine whether oxidants might affect proteins of the fibrinolytic system, we examined the effects of various oxidants on plasmin. Plasmin was not inhibited by micromolar concentrations of hypochlorous acid, chloramine T, or H2O2. Neither Fe nor Cu affected plasmin alone or in the presence of H2O2. However, incubation of plasmin with 5 mumol/L Cu(I or II) in the presence of the reducing agent ascorbic acid resulted in a loss of its hydrolytic activity towards proteins as well as towards small synthetic substrates. The addition of EDTA, but not mannitol, prevented its inactivation. Inactivation was prevented by the addition of catalase and accelerated by hydrogen peroxide. Preincubation of plasmin with the competitive inhibitor alpha-N-acetyl-L-lysine methyl ester prevented inactivation by Cu(II) and ascorbate. These results together suggest site-specific oxidation of plasmin's active site. Treatment of the plasminogen activators tissue plasminogen activator and two-chain urokinase-type plasminogen activator, as well as trypsin, neutrophil elastase, and thrombin with Cu(II) and ascorbate resulted in a loss of their amidolytic and proteolytic activity, indicating the general susceptibility of serine proteases to this type of oxidation. Oxidation of the zymogens Glu-plasminogen and single-chain urokinase-type plasminogen activator by Cu(II) and ascorbate resulted in the failure of these molecules to generate active enzymes when treated with plasminogen activators or plasmin, respectively. The active site His residue may be the target of oxidative inactivation, as evidenced by the partial protection afforded plasmin by the addition of Zn(II), histidine, or the platinum derivative, platinum(II) (2,2':6',2"-terpyridine) chloride. Because platelets contain micromolar concentrations of Cu and leukocytes are rich in ascorbate, Cu-dependent site-specific oxidation might play a role in modulating proteolytic events and the life span of thrombi formed at sites of tissue injury.