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Hydrogen peroxide is a component of cigarette smoke known to be essential for inactivation of α1-antitrypsin, the primary inhibitor of neutrophil elastase. To establish the molecular basis of the inactivation of α1- antitrypsin, we determined the sites oxidized by hydrogen peroxide. Two of the nine methionines were particularly susceptible to oxidation. One was methionine 358, whose oxidation was known to cause loss of antielastase activity. The other, methionine 351, was as susceptible to oxidation as methionine 358. Its oxidation also resulted in loss of anti-elastase activity, an effect not previously recognized. The equal susceptibility of methionine 358 and methionine 351 to oxidation was confirmed by mass spectrometry. To verify this finding, we produced recombinant α1-antitrypsins in which one or both of the susceptible methionines were mutated to valine. M351V and M358V were not as rapidly inactivated as wild-type α1-antitrypsin, but only the double mutant M351V/M358V was markedly resistant to oxidative inactivation. We suggest that inactivation of a1- antitrypsin by oxidation of either methionine 351 or 358 provides a mechanism for regulation of its activity at sites of inflammation.
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