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DNA Cell Biol. 1999 Apr;18(4):323-31.

Confocal microscopy reveals thimet oligopeptidase (EC and neurolysin (EC in the classical secretory pathway.

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Department of Histology and Embryology, Biomedical Science Institute, University of São Paulo, Brazil.


Thimet oligopeptidase (EC; EP24.15) and neurolysin (EC; EP24.16) are closely related enzymes involved in the metabolic inactivation of bioactive peptides. Both of these enzymes were previously shown to be secreted from a variety of cell types, although their primary sequence lacks a signal peptide. To investigate the mechanisms responsible for this secretion, we examined by confocal microscopy the subcellular localization of these two enzymes in the neuroendocrine cell line AtT20. Both EP24.15 and EP24.16 were found by immunohistochemistry to be abundantly expressed in AtT20 cells. Western blotting experiments confirmed that the immunoreactivity detected in the soma of these cells corresponded to previously cloned isoforms of the enzymes. At the subcellular level, both enzymes colocalized extensively with the integral trans-Golgi network protein, syntaxin-6, in the juxtanuclear region. In addition, both EP24.15 and EP24.16 were found within small vesicular organelles distributed throughout the cell body. Some, but not all, of these organelles also stained positively for ACTH. These results demonstrate that both EP24.15 and EP24.16 are present within the classical secretory pathway. Their colocalization with ACTH further suggests that they may be targeted to the regulated secretory pathway, even in the absence of a signal peptide.

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