To evaluate degradation processes of sucrase-isomaltase in adult rat jejunum, we determined enzymic activity of sucrase and isomaltase and compared it with the amount of immunoreactive sucrase-isomaltase. In rats fed or starved for 18h, killed at 10:00 h or 22:00 h, sucrase activity (expressed on the basis of total protein or of immunoreactive sucrase-isomaltase) was significantly (P less than 0.02) lower in the lower jejunum than in the upper jejunum; isomaltase activity was similar in both segments. Crossed immunoelectrophoresis demonstrated the existence of a second sucrase-isomaltase antigen reacting with anti-(sucrase-isomaltase) serum. This antigen was present in larger amounts in the lower jejunum than in the upper jejunum, exhibited immunological partial identity with the intact sucrase-isomaltase, and had isomaltase activity but no sucrase activity. Results suggest that this antigen is a degradation product of sucrase-isomaltase in which the sucrase active site has been broken down. To examine the role of pancreatic enzymes in degradation of sucrase-isomaltase, common pancreatico-biliary ducts were ligated. Within 18 h after the operation, the difference of sucrase activity between the upper and the lower jejunum disappeared and the amount of the second sucrase-isomaltase antigen markedly decreased in the lower jejunum. Our results indicate that, during the degradation of intestinal sucrase-isomaltase by the pancreatic proteinases, degradation of the sucrase active site precedes that of the isomaltase active site.

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