A novel chymotrypsin-like component of the multicatalytic proteinase complex optimally active at acidic pH

Maria E. Figueiredo-Pereira, Wei Er Chen, Hong Mei Yuan, Sherwin Wilk

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38 Scopus citations


The multicatalytic proteinase complex (MPC) or proteasome is a multimeric, high-molecular-weight (700, 000), extralysosomal proteolytic enzyme found in eukaryotes and in archaebacteria. Its multiple catalytic sites grant it a broad cleavage specificity toward short peptides and protein substrates. The pH optima of the catalytic activities of MPC are in the neutral or slightly alkaline range. We present here evidence for cryptic catalytic components of MPC optimally active at an acidic pH. Studies with a hydrophobic fluorescent probe provide direct evidence for conformational changes brought about by exposing the complex to an acidic environment. One of the newly described components, designated "acidic chymotrypsin-like activity," cleaves the Leu-2-naphthylamide bond in the substrate Boc-Val-Glu-Ala-Leu-2-naphthylamide. Compared with the classical "neutral" chymotrypsin-like activity defined by cleavage of the Leu-p-nitroanilide bond in Z-Gly-Gly-Leu-p-nitroanilide, the newly described component is not inhibited by monovalent cations and is less sensitive to the peptidyl aldehyde Z-Gly-Gly-leucinal, an inhibitor of the neutral chymotrypsin-like activity. In addition, we describe the properties of a novel potent peptidyl aldehyde, Z-Ile-Glu(OtBu)-Ala-leucinal, which is an inhibitor of both the acidic and neutral chymotrypsin-like activities of MPC, with IC50 values of 0.25 and 6.5 μM, respectively. In the presence of 65 μM of the newly synthesized peptidyl aldehyde, other MPC components such as the trypsin-like and peptidylglutamyl peptide hydrolyzing activities were decreased only by 14 and 9%, respectively. The hydrophobicity, potency, and specificity of Z-Ile-Glu(OtBu)-Ala-leucinal toward the chymotrypsin-like activities of the complex make it a valuable pharmacological tool with which to investigate the physiological roles of MPC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Acidosis
  • Inhibitor
  • Proteolytic enzyme


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