Treatment of isolated myofibrils with Ca2+-activated neutral proteinase (CANP) results in specific removal of Z-line and of alpha-actinin. To investigate the ionic requirement for these processes, we measured Z-line removal by phase-contrast and interference microscopy and alpha-actinin removal by sodium dodecyl sulphate/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoretic analysis of myofibrillar proteins. The proteolytic digestion of native purified proteins was measured directly on polyacrylamide gels and by the fluorescamine technique. We found that the removal of Z-line and alpha-actinin as well as the release of proteolytic degradation products from isolated myofibrils by CANP occur only in the presence of Ca2+; Sr2+, Ba2+, Mn2+, Mg2+, Co2+ and Zn2+ are all ineffective. In contrast with this stringent requirement for Ca2+, the proteolytic activity of CANP measured with denatured casein, native and denatured haemoglobin, native actin and tropomyosin also occurs in the presence of other bivalent cations, in the following order: Ca2+ greater than Sr2+ greater than Ba2+. These data suggest that only Ca2+ can produce the conformational change in myofibrils that renders them susceptible to the action of CANP, whereas its proteolytic activity is stimulated by several bivalent ions.

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