Microvillar membranes derived from the brush border of the renal proximal tubule are very rich in peptidases. Pig kidney microvilli contain endopeptidase-24.11 associated with a battery of exopeptidases. The manner by which some neuropeptides are degraded by the combined attack of the peptidases of this membrane has been investigated. The contribution of individual peptidases was assessed by including inhibitors (phosphoramidon, captopril, amastatin and di-isopropyl fluorophosphate) with the membrane fraction when incubated with the peptides. Substance P, bradykinin and angiotensins I, II and III and insulin B-chain were rapidly hydrolysed by kidney microvilli. Oxytocin was hydrolysed much more slowly, but no products were detected from [Arg8]vasopressin or insulin under the conditions used for other peptides. The peptide bonds hydrolysed were identified and the contributions of the different peptidases were quantified. For each of the susceptible peptides, the main contribution came from endopeptidase-24.11 (inhibited by phosphoramidon). Peptidyl dipeptidase A (angiotensin-I-converting enzyme) was of less importance, even in respect of angiotensin I and bradykinin. When [2,3-Pro3,4-3H]bradykinin was also investigated at a lower concentration (20 nM), the conclusions in regard to the contributions of the two peptidases were unchanged. The possibility that endopeptidase-24.11 might attack within the six-residue disulphide-bridged rings of oxytocin and vasopressin was examined by dansyl(5-dimethylaminonaphthalene-1-sulphonyl)ation and by reduction and carboxymethylation of the products after incubation. Additional peptides were only observed after prolonged incubation, consistent with hydrolysis at the Tyr2-Ile3 and Tyr2-Phe3 bonds respectively. These results show that a range of neuropeptides are efficiently degraded by microvillar membranes and that endopeptidase-24.11 plays a key role in this process.

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