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J Biol Chem. 2003 Nov 21;278(47):46643-8. Epub 2003 Sep 15.

Cleavage of the ADAMTS13 propeptide is not required for protease activity.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


ADAMTS13 belongs to the "a disintegrin and metalloprotease with thrombospondin repeats" family, and cleaves von Willebrand factor multimers into smaller forms. For several related proteases, normal folding and enzymatic latency depend on an NH2-terminal propeptide that is removed by proteolytic processing during biosynthesis. However, the ADAMTS13 propeptide is unusually short and poorly conserved, suggesting it may not perform these functions. ADAMTS13 was secreted from transfected HeLa cells with a half-time of 7 h and the rate-limiting step was exported from the endoplasmic reticulum. Deletion of the propeptide did not impair the secretion of active ADAMTS13, indicating that the propeptide is dispensable for folding. Furin was shown to be sufficient for ADAMTS13 propeptide processing in two ways. First, mutation of the furin consensus recognition site prevented propeptide cleavage in HeLa cells and resulted in secretion of pro-ADAMTS13. Second, furin-deficient LoVo cells secreted ADAMTS13 with the propeptide intact, and cotransfection with furin restored propeptide cleavage. In both cell lines, secreted pro-ADAMTS13 had normal proteolytic activity toward von Willebrand factor. In cells coexpressing both ADAMTS13 and von Willebrand factor, pro-ADAMTS13 cleaved pro-von Willebrand factor intracellularly. Therefore, the ADAMTS13 propeptide is not required for folding or secretion, and does not perform the common function of maintaining enzyme latency.

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