Chemical cleavage at cysteine residues with nitrothiocyanobenzoic acid shows that the last 98 amino acids of the 380-amino-acid sequence of chick muscle creatine kinase are sufficient for binding of the monoclonal antibody CK-ART. Removal of the last 30 amino acids by cleavage at methionine residues with CNBr results in loss of CK-ART binding. CK-ART binding is also lost when these C-terminal methionine residues are oxidized to sulphoxide, but binding is regained on reduction. Proteinase K ‘nicks’ native CK at a single site near the C-terminus and two fragments of 327 amino acides and 53 amino acids can be separated by subsequent SDS or urea treatment. CK-ART still binds normally to ‘nicked’ CK, which is enzymically inactive. After treatment with either urea (in a competition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) or SDS (on Western blots), however, CK-ART binds to neither of the two fragments, although these treatments do not affect binding to intact CK. This suggests that parts of both CK fragments contribute to the CK-ART epitope. CK-ART is both species- and isoenzyme-specific, binding only to chick M-CK. The only C-terminal regions containing chick-specific sequences are residues 300-312 and residues 368-371, the latter group being close to the essential methionine residues. We suggest that one, or possibly both, of these regions is involved in forming the conformational epitope on the surface of the CK molecule which CK-ART recognizes. Native CK is resistant to trypsin digestion. The C-terminal half of urea-treated and partly-refolded CK is also resistant to trypsin digestion, whereas the N-terminal half is readily digested. The results suggest a C-terminal region which can refold more rapidly than the rest of the CK molecule and provide evidence for an intermediate in CK refolding.

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