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J Biol Chem. 1998 Aug 28;273(35):22672-80.

Specificity of prohormone convertase 2 on proenkephalin and proenkephalin-related substrates.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Louisiana State University Medical Center, School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112, USA.


In the central and peripheral nervous systems, the neuropeptide precursor proenkephalin must be endoproteolytically cleaved by enzymes known as prohormone convertases 1 and 2 (PC1 and PC2) to generate opioid-active enkephalins. In this study, we have investigated the specificity of recombinant mouse PC2 for proenkephalin-related internally quenched (IQ) peptides, for methylcoumarin amide-based fluorogenic peptides, and for recombinant rat proenkephalin. IQ peptides exhibited specificity constants (kcat/Km) between 9.4 x 10(4) M-1 s-1 (Abz-Val-Pro-Arg-Met-Glu-Lys-Arg-Tyr-Gly-Gly-Phe-Met-Gln-EDDnp+ ++; where Abz is ortho-aminobenzoic acid and EDDnp is N-(2, 4-dinitrophenyl)ethylenediamine)) and 0.24 x 10(4) M-1 s-1 (Abz-Tyr-Gly-Gly-Phe-Met-Arg-Arg-Val-Gly-Arg-Pro-Glu-EDDnp), with the peptide B to Met-enk-Arg-Phe cleavage preferred (Met-enk is met-enkephalin). Fluorogenic substrates with P1, P2, and P4 basic amino acids were hydrolyzed with specificity constants ranging between 2.0 x 10(3) M-1 s-1 (Ac-Orn-Ser-Lys-Arg-MCA; where MCA is methylcoumarin amide) and 1.8 x 10(4) M-1 s-1 (<Glu-Arg-Thr-Lys-Arg-MCA; where <Glu is pyroglutamic acid). Substrates containing only a single basic residue were not appreciably hydrolyzed, and substrates lacking a P4 Arg exhibited kcat of less than 0.05 s-1. Substitution of ornithine for Lys at the P4 position did not significantly affect the kcat but increased the Km 2-fold. Data from both sets of fluorogenic substrates supported the contribution of a P4 Arg to PC2 preference. Analysis of proenkephalin reaction products using immunoblotting and gel permeation chromatography demonstrated that PC2 can directly cleave proenkephalin and that the generation of small opioid peptides from intermediates is mediated almost entirely by PC2 rather than by PC1. These results are in accord with the analysis of PC2 knock-out brains, in which the amounts of three mature enkephalins were depleted by more than three-quarters.

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