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J Biol Chem. 1991 Jan 5;266(1):98-103.

Human cytotoxic lymphocyte granzyme B. Its purification from granules and the characterization of substrate and inhibitor specificity.

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  • 1Merck, Sharp and Dohme Research Laboratories, Rahway, New Jersey 07065.


Granzyme B has been purified to homogeneity from the granules of a human cytolytic lymphocyte line, Q31, in an enzymatically active form by a three-step procedure. Q31 granzyme B hydrolyzed Na-t-butyloxycarbonyl-L-alanyl-L-alanyl-L-aspartyl (Boc-Ala-Ala-Asp) thiobenzyl ester with a kcat of 11 +/- 5 mol/s/mol enzyme and catalytic efficiency kcat/Km of 76,000 +/- 44,000 M-1 s-1. The hydrolysis of Boc-Ala-Ala-Asp thiobenzyl ester by crude Q31 Percoll fractions paralleled the tryptase activity for granule-containing fractions, which showed that granzyme B was associated with granules. When chromatographed on Sephacryl S-300, Q31 granzyme B eluted in two broad bands corresponding to dimer and monomer, both of which electrophoresed at 35 kDa in reducing NaDodSo4 polyacrylamide, and both of which showed a lag phase in assays. The lag phase in assays could be extended with 0.03 mM pepstatin. Upon elution from ion-exchange chromatography Q31 granzyme B electrophoresed at 32 kDa in reducing NaDodSO4 polyacrylamide and did not have a lag phase in assays. The amino-terminal sequence of the 32-kDa Q31 granzyme B was identical to four other human cytotoxic T-lymphocyte granzymes B in 18 of 18 positions sequenced. Purified Q31 granzyme B had a preference for substrates with Glu or Asp as the residue amino-terminal to the scissile bond; little or no activity was noted with oligopeptide substrates for trypsin-like, chymotrypsin-like, and elastase-like proteases. Human plasma alpha 1-protease inhibitor, human plasma alpha 2-protease macroglobulin, soybean and lima-bean trypsin inhibitors, bovine aprotinin, phosphoramidon, and chymostatin inhibited Q31 granzyme B. The inhibition by alpha 1-protease inhibitor was rapid enough to be of physiological significance.

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