Blood coagulation factor V (FV) is a multifunctional protein that circulates in human plasma as a precursor molecule which can be activated by thrombin or activated factor X (FXa) in order to express its cofactor activity in prothrombin activation. FV activation is achieved by limited proteolysis after Arg709, Arg1018, and Arg1545 in the FV molecule. The venoms of Daboia russelli and Daboia lebetina contain a serine protease that specifically activates FV by a single cleavage at Arg1545. We have predicted the three-dimensional structure of these enzymes using comparative protein modeling techniques. The plasminogen activator from Agkistrodon acutus, which shows a high degree of homology with the venom FV activators and for which a high-quality crystallographic structure is available, was used as the molecular template. The RVV-V and LVV-V models provide for the first time a detailed and accurate structure of a snake venom FV activator and explain the observed sensitivity or resistance toward a number of serine protease inhibitors. Finally, electrostatic potential calculations show that two positively charged surface patches are present on opposite sides of the active site. We propose that both FV activators achieve their exquisite substrate specificity for the Arg1545 site via interactions between these exosites and FV.
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