Bovine aortic endothelial cells contain Ca2+-dependent tissue-type transglutaminase. Its activity in these cells was high, with apparent Km and Vmax. values with respect to putrescine of 0.203 mM and 18.5 nmol/min per mg of protein, and its activity was inhibited by the three competitive inhibitors dansylcadaverine, spermine and methylamine. The molecular mass of endothelial cell transglutaminase estimated by gel filtration chromatography was 88 kDa and it was immunoprecipitated by rabbit monospecific antiserum raised against rat liver transglutaminase. Its enzymic activity rose when the cell cultures reached confluence, and was further increased when their proliferation was arrested (synchronized at G0/G1 phase). Most of the enzymic activity was found in the 15,000 g soluble fraction, with only 4-22% of the activity found in the particulate fraction, depending on the state of cell proliferation. Examination of these cellular fractions by SDS/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis and immunoblotting revealed that at confluence endothelial cells have accumulated transglutaminase antigen in their 15,000 g particulate fraction. A series of experiments demonstrated the existence of a latent transglutaminase form in non-proliferating cells, and suggested that this might involve the formation of an inhibitory complex. Treatment of cell lysates and the 15,000 g particulate fraction with high salt concentration showed a significant increase in transglutaminase activity. Mixing experiments using the 100,000 g particulate fraction or purified rat liver transglutaminase on one hand and the cytosolic fraction on the other showed dose-dependent inhibition of the transglutaminase activity of the latter. It is concluded that endothelial cells contain a particulate fraction-residing inhibitor of transglutaminase which interacts via ionic interaction with the enzyme.

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