Echistatin is a potent antagonist of the integrins αvβ3, α5β1 and αIIbβ3. Its full inhibitory activity depends on an RGD (Arg-Gly-Asp) motif expressed at the tip of the integrin-binding loop and on its C-terminal tail. Previous NMR structures of echistatin showed a poorly defined integrin-recognition sequence and an incomplete C-terminal tail, which left the molecular basis of the functional synergy between the RGD loop and the C-terminal region unresolved. We report a high-resolution structure of echistatin and an analysis of its internal motions by off-resonance ROESY (rotating-frame Overhauser enhancement spectroscopy). The full-length C-terminal polypeptide is visible as a β-hairpin running parallel to the RGD loop and exposing at the tip residues Pro43, His44 and Lys45. The side chains of the amino acids of the RGD motif have well-defined conformations. The integrin-binding loop displays an overall movement with maximal amplitude of 30°. Internal angular motions in the 100–300 ps timescale indicate increased flexibility for the backbone atoms at the base of the integrin-recognition loop. In addition, backbone atoms of the amino acids Ala23 (flanking the R24GD26 tripeptide) and Asp26 of the integrin-binding motif showed increased angular mobility, suggesting the existence of major and minor hinge effects at the base and the tip, respectively, of the RGD loop. A strong network of NOEs (nuclear Overhauser effects) between residues of the RGD loop and the C-terminal tail indicate concerted motions between these two functional regions. A full-length echistatin–αvβ3 docking model suggests that echistatin's C-terminal amino acids may contact αv-subunit residues and provides new insights to delineate structure–function correlations.

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