PerspectiveBiochemistry

How Serpins Are Shaping Up

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Science  17 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5435, pp. 1861-1863
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5435.1861

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Summary

The serpins are a versatile family of serine protease inhibitors that are involved in coagulation, fibrinolysis, and many other physiological processes. In a Perspective, Carrell discusses new findings that reveal that small conformational changes in a serpin after cleavage of its reactive site by a target protease can result in acquisition of new functions. For example, O'Reilly et al. demonstrate that small conformational changes in antithrombin III result in a switch from its job as an inhibitor of clotting enzymes to a new function as an inhibitor of blood vessel formation and tumor progression.