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J Neurosci. 2003 Mar 15;23(6):2122-30.

The EGL-21 carboxypeptidase E facilitates acetylcholine release at Caenorhabditis elegans neuromuscular junctions.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Proneuropeptides are packaged into dense-core vesicles in which they are processed into active peptides by copackaged enzymes. Proprotein convertases (PCs) cleave precursors after dibasic residues, and carboxypeptidases remove basic residues from the C terminals. We show here that the Caenorhabditis elegans egl-21 gene encodes a protein that is very similar to carboxypeptidase E (CPE) and is broadly expressed in the nervous system. Mutants lacking either egl-21 CPE or egl-3, which encodes the C. elegans ortholog of PC type 2 (PC2), were defective for processing endogenously expressed FMRFamide (Phe-Met-Arg-Phe-NH2)-related peptides (FaRPs). Mutants lacking the unc-104 kinesin motor protein were defective for anterograde movement of dense-core vesicle components, including egl-3 PC2, egl-21 CPE, and FaRPs. We provide evidence that egl-3 PC2 and egl-21 CPE mutants have diminished acetylcholine release at neuromuscular junctions (NMJs). Taken together, these results suggest that egl-21 CPE and egl-3 PC2 process endogenous neuropeptides that facilitate acetylcholine release at C. elegans NMJs.

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