The structure of human pro-myostatin and molecular basis of latency
Myostatin is a secreted growth factor of the transforming growth-factor
Crystallographic analysis of pro-myostatin reveals a unique domain-swapped dimeric structure, with an open V-shaped conformation distinct from the prototypical family member, TGF$\beta$1. Following cleavage of the prodomains by furin, pro-myostatin persists as a stable non-covalent complex which is resistant to the natural inhibitor follistatin and exhibits significantly weaker bioactivity than the mature growth factor. A number of distinct structural features combine to stabilise the interaction between pro and mature domains and in doing so confer latency to the pro-complex. This facilitates a controlled, step-wise process of activation in the extracellular space and contributes to a complex network of regulatory control.
The results presented here provide a structural basis for understanding the effect of natural polymorphisms on myostatin function and a starting point for structure-guided development of next generation myostatin inhibitors. As a proof-of-concept, I present preliminary data on prodomain derived stapled peptides as inhibitors of myostatin signalling.