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J Immunol. 1986 Jun 15;136(12):4644-51.

Characterization and isolation of a trypsin-like serine protease from a long-term culture cytolytic T cell line and its expression by functionally distinct T cells.


We describe the characterization and purification of a trypsin-like serine protease isolated from cloned long-term culture cytolytic T cell line (CTLL AK). High amounts of proteolytic activity were isolated from extracts of CTLL AK after either nitrogen cavitation or detergent lysis. Trypsin-like protease was detected by using either the ester compound N alpha-benzyloxycarbonyl-L-lysine thiobenzyl ester or a panel of low molecular amide substrates. The latter compounds were preferentially cleaved at the carboxyl termini of lysine and arginine residues. The enzyme activity was completely inhibited by two serine esterase inhibitors, diisopropylfluorophosphate and phenylmethanesulfonyl fluoride, and by aprotinin and meta-aminobenzamidine, which are known to block trypsin-like proteases. The pH optimum for CTLL AK-derived protease activity is 8 to 9. Analysis of the enzyme by gel filtration revealed that the cell-bound proteolytic activity was associated with a complex that could not be dissociated by treatment with Triton X-100. The CTLL AK-derived protease activity was found to reside in two proteins with relative molecular masses (Mr) of 32,000 and 40,000 daltons as determined by affinity labeling with [3H]diisopropylfluorophosphate and sodium dodecyl sulfate gel electrophoresis. High levels of enzyme activity were found in a panel of H-Y-specific cloned T cell lines with either cytolytic/suppressor (CTLL) or helper potential (THL), indicating a lack of correlation between trypsin-like protease activity and a particular T cell function. High enzyme activity was also detected in tumorigenic variants of CTLL. Furthermore, it was excluded that the trypsin-like activity detected was attributable to plasminogen activator activity. In contrast to cloned T effector cells and their in vitro or in vivo derived variants, considerably less activity was found in normal nonactivated or activated lymphocyte populations. The possible role of the trypsin-like serine protease in the function of T effector cells is discussed.

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