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Biochem J. 2004 Oct 15;383(Pt 2):311-8.

Comparative biochemical analysis of three bacterial prolyl endopeptidases: implications for coeliac sprue.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Stanford Unversity, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Prolyl endopeptidases have potential for treating coeliac sprue, a disease of the intestine caused by proteolytically resistant peptides from proline-rich prolamins of wheat, barley and rye. We compared the properties of three similar bacterial prolyl endopeptidases, including the known enzymes from Flavobacterium meningosepticum (FM) and Sphingomonas capsulate (SC) and a novel enzyme from Myxococcus xanthus (MX). These enzymes were interrogated with reference chromogenic substrates, as well as two related gluten peptides (PQPQLPYPQPQLP and LQLQPFPQPQLPYPQPQLPYPQPQLPYPQPQPF), believed to play a key role in coeliac sprue pathogenesis. In vitro and in vivo studies were conducted to evaluate the activity, specificity and acid/protease stability of the enzymes. All peptidases were relatively resistant to acid, pancreatic proteases and membrane peptidases of the small intestinal mucosa. Although their activities against reference substrates were similar, the enzymes exhibited substantial differences with respect to chain length and subsite specificity. SC hydrolysed PQPQLPYPQPQLP well, but had negligible activity against LQLQPFPQPQLPYPQPQLPYPQPQLPYPQPQPF. In contrast, the FM and MX peptidases cleaved both substrates, although the FM enzyme acted more rapidly on LQLQPFPQPQLPYPQPQLPYPQPQLPYPQPQPF than MX. Whereas the FM enzyme showed a preference for Pro-Gln bonds, SC cleaved both Pro-Gln and Pro-Tyr bonds with comparable efficiency, and MX had a modest preference for Pro-(Tyr/Phe) sites over Pro-Gln sites. While a more comprehensive understanding of sequence and chain-length specificity may be needed to assess the relative utility of alternative prolyl endopeptidases for treating coeliac sprue, our present work has illustrated the diverse nature of this class of enzymes from the standpoint of proteolysing complex substrates such as gluten.

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