The aim of this study was to optimize the synthesis of the plasmin and urokinase (uPA) inhibitor benzylsulfonyl-D-Ser-homoPhe-(4-amidino-benzylamide) (BSFAB), to characterize its activity and mechanism of action and to assess its use to improve stratum corneum (SC) barrier function. Peptide coupling methods were used to synthesize BSFAB, and high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS) together with BSFAB was synthesized with high purity (97.3%). In silico studies indicated that the amidine moiety of BSFAB was anchored in the S1 pocket of both enzymes by binding to Asp189, Ser190 and Gly219, whereas the backbone of the D-Ser residue makes an anti-parallel β-sheet interaction with Gly216. BSFAB was shown to be an effective inhibitor of plasmin and uPA with K BSFAB binds as a reversible competitive inhibitor to the active sites of plasmin and uPA. Additionally, BSFAB positively improved keratinocyte differentiation gene expression (transglutaminase 1). These effects were translated into improvements in SC barrier integrity clinically in subjects with dry and sensitive skin and improved their perception of having a healthy skin condition.
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