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J Biol Chem. 1995 May 26;270(21):12912-8.

Carboxyl-terminal prodomain-deleted human leukocyte elastase and cathepsin G are efficiently targeted to granules and enzymatically activated in the rat basophilic/mast cell line RBL.

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Department of Medicine, University of Lund, Sweden.


The hematopoietic neutral serine proteases leukocyte elastase and cathepsin G are synthesized as inactive precursors, but become activated by removal of an amino-terminal dipeptide and are stored in granules. Moreover, the pro forms of elastase and cathepsin G show carboxyl-terminal prodomains of 20 and 11 amino acids, respectively, which are not present in the mature enzymes. To investigate mechanisms of processing, activation, and granular targeting, we have utilized transgenic expression of myeloid serine proteases in the rat basophilic/mast cell line RBL-1 (Gullberg, U., Lindmark, A., Nilsson, E., Persson, A.-M., and Olsson, I. (1994) J. Biol. Chem. 269, 25219-25225). Leukocyte elastase was stably expressed in RBL-1 cells, and the translation products were characterized by biosynthetic labeling followed by immunoprecipitation, SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and fluorography. Processing of a main pro form of 34 kDa into mature 31- and 29-kDa forms was demonstrated. Translocation of mature forms to granule-containing fractions was shown by subcellular fractionation experiments. The processed forms were enzymatically active, judging by the occurrence of amino-terminal processing demonstrated by radiosequence analysis, the acquisition of affinity for the protease inhibitor aprotinin, and the appearance of elastase activity in transfected RBL cells. To investigate the function of the carboxyl-terminal prodomains, deletion mutants of leukocyte elastase and cathepsin G lacking the carboxyl-terminal extension were constructed and transfected into RBL cells. Our results show that as full-length proteins, the deletion mutants were converted to active enzymes and transferred to granules with kinetics similar to that of wild-type enzymes. We conclude that human leukocyte elastase and cathepsin G are converted into enzymatically active forms when expressed in RBL cells and targeted for storage in granules; the carboxyl-terminal prodomains are necessary neither for enzymatic activation nor for targeting to granules in RBL cells.

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