Serine protease inhibitors (serpins) regulate coagulation and inflammation. Heparin, a glycosaminoglycan, is an important cofactor for modulation of the inhibitory function of mammalian serpins. The secreted myxoma viral serpin, Serp-1 exerts profound anti-inflammatory activity in a wide range of animal models. Serp-1 anti-inflammatory and anti-atherogenic activity is dependent upon inhibition of the uPA / uPA receptor thrombolytic complex. We demonstrate here that heparin binds to Serp-1 and enhances Serp-1 inhibition of thrombin, a human pro-thrombotic serine protease, in vitro, altering inhibitory activity to a more predominant anti-thrombotic activity. Heparin also facilitates the simultaneous thrombin-mediated cleavage of Serp-1 and prevents formation of a serpin-typical SDS-resistant complex, implying mutual neutralization of Serp-1 and thrombin. In a cell-based assay, heparin facilitates Serp-1 reversal of cellular activation by stabilizing cellular membrane fluidity in thrombin-activated monocytes. In conclusion, heparin and other GAGs serve as cofactors enhancing Serp-1 regulation of local thrombotic and inflammatory pathways

Keywords: Serpin, heparin, myxoma virus, thrombosis, GAGs, thrombin.
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