A series of dipeptide derivatives of Rhodamine, each containing an arginine residue in the P1 position and one of ten representative benzyloxycarbonyl (Cbz)-blocked amino acids in the P2 position, has been synthesized, purified and characterized as substrates for serine proteinases. These substrates are easily prepared with high yields. Cleavage of a single amide bond converts the non-fluorescent bisamide substrate into a highly fluorescent monoamide product. Macroscopic kinetic constants for the interaction of these substrates with bovine trypsin, human and dog plasmin, and human thrombin are reported. Certain of these substrates exhibit extremely large specificity constants. For example, the kcat./Km for bovine trypsin with bis-(N-benzyloxycarbonylglycyl-argininamido)-Rhodamine [(Cbz-Gly-Arg-NH)2-Rhodamine] is 1 670 000 M-1 X S-1. Certain of these substrates are also highly selective. For example, the most specific substrate for human plasmin, (Cbz-Phe-Arg-NH2)-Rhodamine, is not hydrolysed by human thrombin, and the most specific substrate for human thrombin, (Cbz-Pro-Arg-NH)2-Rhodamine, is one of the least specific substrates for human plasmin. Comparison of the kinetic constants for hydrolysis of the dipeptide substrates with that of the single amino acid derivative, (Cbz-Arg-NH)2-Rhodamine, indicates that selection of the proper amino acid residue in the P2 position can effect large increases in substrate specificity. This occurs primarily as a result of an increase in kcat. as opposed to a decrease in Km and, in certain cases, is accompanied by a large increase in selectivity. Because of their high degree of sensitivity and selectivity, these Rhodamine-based dipeptide compounds should be extremely useful substrates for studying serine proteinases.

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