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The compact and biologically relevant structure of inter-α-inhibitor is maintained by the chondroitin sulfate chain and divalent cations

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Inter-α-inhibitor is a proteoglycan of unique structure. The protein consists of three subunits, heavy chain 1, heavy chain 2 and bikunin covalently joined by a chondroitin sulfate chain originating at Ser-10 of bikunin. Inter-α-inhibitor interacts with an inflammation-associated protein, tumor necrosis factor-inducible gene 6 protein, in the extracellular matrix. This interaction leads to transfer of the heavy chains from the chondroitin sulfate of inter-α-inhibitor to hyaluronan and consequently to matrix stabilization. Divalent cations and heavy chain 2 are essential co-factors in this transfer reaction. In the present study, we have investigated how divalent cations in concert with the chondroitin sulfate chain influence the structure and stability of inter-α-inhibitor. The results showed that Mg2+ or Mn2+, but not Ca2+, induced a conformational change in inter-α-inhibitor as evidenced by a decrease in the Stokes radius and a bikunin chondroitin sulfate dependent increase of the thermodynamic stability. This structure was shown to be essential for the ability of inter-α-inhibitor to participate in extracellular matrix stabilization. In addition, the data revealed that bikunin was positioned adjacent to both heavy chains and that the two heavy chains also were in close proximity. The chondroitin sulfate chain interacted with all protein components and inter-α-inhibitor dissociated when it was degraded. Conventional purification protocols result in the removal of the Mg2+ found in plasma and since divalent cations influence the conformation and affect function it is important to consider this when characterizing the biological activity of inter-α-inhibitor.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Pages (from-to)4658-4670
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2016

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