Two forms of Ca2+-dependent cysteine proteinase (calpain, EC 3.4.22.17) and their specific endogenous inhibitor (calpastatin) were partially purified from porcine retina: calpain I (low-Ca2+-requiring form) was half-maximally activated at 8 microM-Ca2+, and calpain II (high-Ca2+-requiring form) at 250 microM-Ca2+. Both calpain I and calpain II were inhibited by calpastatin. Calpain I from porcine retina was shown to be composed of 83 000- and 29 000-Mr subunits, and calpain II of 80 000- and 29 000-Mr subunits, by the use of monospecific antibodies. Calpains I and II were both found to hydrolyse microtubule-associated proteins 1 and 2 rapidly.

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