Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), a serpin, is the physiological inhibitor of tissue-type and urokinase-type plasminogen activators and thus also an inhibitor of fibrinolysis and tissue remodeling. It is a potential therapeutic target in many pathological conditions, including thrombosis and cancer. Several types of PAI-1 antagonist have been developed, but the structural basis for their action has remained largely unknown. Here we report X-ray crystal structure analysis of PAI-1 in complex with a small-molecule antagonist, embelin. We propose a mechanism for embelin-induced rapid conversion of PAI-1 into a substrate for its target proteases and the subsequent slow conversion of PAI-1 into an irreversibly inactivated form. Our work provides structural clues to an understanding of PAI-1 inactivation by small-molecule antagonists and an important step toward the design of drugs targeting PAI-1.
Chemistry and Biology, 2013, Vol 20, Issue 2, p. 253-261