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Life Sci. 1985 Sep 16;37(11):985-92.

Peptidases that terminate the action of enkephalins. Consideration of physiological importance for amino-, carboxy-, endo-, and pseudoenkephalinase.


The term "enkephalinase" has been frequently applied to enzyme activity in a variety of tissue preparations. In some cases there has been the implication that cleavage of a specific peptide bond in the enkephalin molecule results from the action of a single enzyme with the major responsibility of inactivating synaptic enkephalin. It is not known to what extent diverse enkephalin-degrading enzymes, with differing peptide bond specificities, may act in concert at any given synapse. There do exist, however, enzymes having known characteristic specificities with respect both to peptide substrates, including enkephalins, and to identifiable peptide bonds. Thus, at any given site of enkephalin release there probably resides a characteristic assembly of peptidases concerned with inactivation of this neuromediator. We propose that the term "enkephalinase" be used to encompass the entire family of enkephalin-degrading enzymes, and that "aminoenkephalinase", "carboxyenkephalinase", "endoenkephalinase" and "pseudoenkephalinase" should designate enzymes of known specificities with respect to both peptide substrates and particular peptide bonds.

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