Plasminogen Activators from Snake Venoms

  • Bernard F. Le BonniecEmail author
  • Julie Libraire


Normal fibrinolysis results from activation of plasminogen to plasmin, the effective blood clot dissolution enzyme. Plasminogen is a remarkably stable proenzyme circulating at a high 2 μM in blood. Plasmin is an efficient trypsin-like protease (clan SA) with broad specificity. Plasmin is highly destructive, but its affinity for fibrin normally localizes its action in the vicinity of blood clot and two powerful inhibitors prevent its uncontrolled dissemination. Five types of plasminogen activators had been described to date. Four are typical serine proteases sharing several distinctive features. The fifth kind includes streptokinase and staphylokinase of bacterial origin. Tissue-type (t-PA) and urokinase-type (u-PA) plasminogen activators are physiologic activators sharing similar vulnerability to inhibitors but differing for activation mechanism and localization of action. An additional activator had been characterized in the saliva of the vampire bat Desmodus rotundus (DS-PA) which deliberately lacks regulatory mechanisms of inhibition while retaining a strict dependence to fibrin for activity. Maintaining blood flow in its prey is the goal of bloodsucking animals. During the past 25 years, a number of plasminogen activators had been isolated from various snake venoms: Chinese green tree viper (TSV-PA from Trimeresurus stejnegeri), Bushmaster (LV-PA from Lachesis muta muta), Korean salmosa snake (Haly-PA from Agkistrodon halys brevicaudus) and Ussuri mamushi (ABUSV-PA from Agkistrodon blomhoffii Ussuriensis). Most have been characterized, purified, and sequenced; the structure of TSV-PA had been solved by X-ray diffraction. These are uncontrolled proteases triggering systemic plasminogen activation with catastrophic consequence for the prey.


Snake Venom Plasminogen Activation Bovine Pancreatic Trypsin Inhibitor Amidolytic Activity Snake Venom Toxin 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INSERM U765, Université Paris DescartesParis CedexFrance

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