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Biological Chemistry

Editor-in-Chief: Brüne, Bernhard

Editorial Board Member: Buchner, Johannes / Ludwig, Stephan / Sies, Helmut / Turk, Boris / Wittinghofer, Alfred

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Cathepsin L and Arg/Lys aminopeptidase: a distinct prohormone processing pathway for the biosynthesis of peptide neurotransmitters and hormones

V. Hook / S. Yasothornsrikul / D. Greenbaum / K.F. Medzihradszky / K. Troutner / T. Toneff / R. Bundey / A. Logrinova / T. Reinheckel / C. Peters / M. Bogyo

Citation Information: Biological Chemistry. Volume 385, Issue 6, Pages 473–480, ISSN (Print) 1431-6730, DOI: 10.1515/BC.2004.055, June 2005

Publication History

Published Online:


Peptide neurotransmitters and hormones are synthesized as protein precursors that require proteolytic processing to generate smaller, biologically active peptides that are secreted to mediate neurotransmission and hormone actions. Neuropeptides within their precursors are typically flanked by pairs of basic residues, as well as by monobasic residues. In this review, evidence for secretory vesicle cathepsin L and Arg/Lys aminopeptidase as a distinct proteolytic pathway for processing the prohormone proenkephalin is presented. Cleavage of prohormone processing sites by secretory vesicle cathepsin L occurs at the NH[2]-terminal side of dibasic residues, as well as between the dibasic residues, resulting in peptide intermediates with Arg or Lys extensions at their NH[2]-termini. A subsequent Arg/Lys aminopeptidase step is then required to remove NH[2-]terminal basic residues to generate the final enkephalin neuropeptide. The cathepsin L and Arg/Lys aminopeptidase prohormone processing pathway is distinct from the proteolytic pathway mediated by the subtilisinlike prohormone convertases 1/3 and 2 (PC1/3 and PC2) with carboxypeptidase E/H. Differences in specific cleavage sites at paired basic residue sites distinguish these two pathways. These two proteolytic pathways demonstrate the increasing complexity of regulatory mechanisms for the production of peptide neurotransmitters and hormones.

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