Viral serpin reactive center loop (RCL) peptides: Design and testing

Liqiang Zhang, Jordan R. Yaron, Sriram Ambadapadi, Alexandra Lucas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Serpins function as a trap for serine proteases, presenting the reactive center loop (RCL) as a target for individual proteases. When the protease cleaves the RCL, the serpin and protease become covalently linked leading to a loss of function of both the protease and the serpin; this suicide inhibition is often referred to as a “mouse trap.” When the RCL P1-P1′ scissile bond is cut by the protease, the resulting bond between the protease and the RCL leads to insertion of the cleaved RCL into the β-sheet A and relocation of the protease to the opposite pole of the serpin, forming a suicide complex. Only a relatively small part of the serpin molecule can be removed in deletion mutations before the serpin RCL inhibitory function is lost. Serpin RCL peptides have been developed to block formation of serpin aggregates in serpinopathies, genetic serpin mutations wherein the abnormal serpins insert their RCL into adjacent serpins forming aggregates of inactive serpins. We have further posited that this natural cleavage site in the serpin RCL may form active serpin metabolites with potential to add to the serpin’s inhibitory functions. We have developed RCL peptides based upon predicted serpin RCL cleavage (or metabolism) sites and tested these serpins for inhibitory function. In this chapter we describe the development of RCL-derived peptides, peptides derived based upon the RCL sequences of two myxomaviral serpins. Methods used to develop peptides are described for RCL-derived peptides from Serp-1, a thrombotic and thrombolytic serine protease inhibitor, and Serp-2, a cross class serine and cysteine protease inhibitor (Subheadings 2.1 and 3.1). Approaches to testing RCL peptide functions, in vitro by molecular assays and in vivo in models of cell migration, MHV-68 infection, and aortic allograft transplant are described (Subheadings 2.2 and 3.2).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • Inflammation
  • Peptide
  • Reactive center loop
  • Serpin
  • Serpinopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Viral serpin reactive center loop (RCL) peptides: Design and testing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this