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Biol Chem. 2001 Jun;382(6):953-9.

Legumain forms from plants and animals differ in their specificity.

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MRC Molecular Enzymology Laboratory, The Babraham Institute, Cambridge, UK.


We purified forms of legumain from a plant source (seeds of kidney bean, Phaseolus vulgaris) and a mammal (kidney of pig, Sus scropha) for comparison of their properties. Both forms were found to be stable only under moderately acidic pH conditions, and were maximally active at about pH 6; the plant enzyme was somewhat less stable and had a slightly higher pH optimum. With benzyloxycarbonyl-Xaa-Ala-Asn-aminomethylcoumarylamide substrates, the two forms of legumain showed distinctly different specificities for the P3 residue, the plant legumain preferring amino acids with bulky hydrophobic side chains because of lower Km values. Both forms of legumain were highly specific for hydrolysis of asparaginyl bonds in the arylamide substrates and in neurotensin. Aspartyl bonds were hydrolysed about 100-fold more slowly with lower pH optima. Potential substrates containing other amino acids structurally similar to asparagine were not hydrolysed. There were clear differences in specificity of hydrolysis of protein substrates. The plant legumain differed from pig legumain in its action on tetanus toxoid C-fragment, cleaving at Asn97 but not at Asn337, and produced more extensive digestion of phaseolin. The plant form of legumain was much more weakly inhibited by egg-white cystatin than was the mammalian form.

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