Deriving Immune-Modulating Peptides from Viral Serine Protease Inhibitors (Serpins)

Jordan R. Yaron, Liqiang Zhang, Michelle Burgin, Lauren N. Schutz, Enkidia A. Awo, Shahar Keinan, Grant McFadden, Sriram Ambadapadi, Qiuyun Guo, Hao Chen, Alexandra R. Lucas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Viruses have devised highly effective approaches that modulate the host immune response, blocking immune responses that are designed to eradicate viral infections. Over millions of years of evolution, virus-derived immune-modulating proteins have become extraordinarily potent, in some cases working at picomolar concentrations when expressed into surrounding tissues and effectively blocking host defenses against viral invasion and replication. The marked efficiency of these immune-modulating proteins is postulated to be due to viral engineering of host immune modulators as well as design and development of new strategies (i.e., some derived from host proteins and some entirely unique). Two key characteristics of viral immune modulators confer both adaptive advantages and desirable functions for therapeutic translation. First, many virus-derived immune modulators have evolved structures that are not readily recognized or regulated by mammalian immune pathways, ensuring little to no neutralizing antibody responses or proteasome-mediated degradation. Second, these immune modulators tend to target early steps in central immune responses, producing a powerful downstream inhibitory “domino effect” which may alter cell activation and gene expression. We have proposed that peptide metabolites of these immune-modulating proteins can enhance and extend protein function. Active immunomodulating peptides have been derived from both mammalian and viral proteins. We previously demonstrated that peptides derived from computationally predicted cleavage sites in the reactive center loop (RCL) of a viral serine proteinase inhibitor (serpin) from myxoma virus, Serp-1, can modify immune response activation. We have also demonstrated modulation of host gut microbiota produced by Serp-1 and RCL-derived peptide, S7, in a vascular inflammation model. Of interest, generation of derived peptides that maintain therapeutic function from a serpin can act by a different mechanism. Whereas Serp-1 has canonical serpin-like function to inhibit serine proteases, S7 instead targets mammalian serpins. Here we describe the derivation of active Serp- RCL peptides and their testing in inflammatory vasculitis models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029


  • Immune modulation
  • Inflammation
  • Myxoma virus
  • Peptides
  • Proteins
  • Reactive center loop
  • Serpin
  • Thrombolytic
  • Thrombotic
  • Vascular
  • Vasculitis
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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