Based upon the observed cleavage of various peptidyl substrates by the recombinant prohormone convertases PC1 and furin, an intramolecularly quenched fluorogenic peptidyl substrate, (o-aminobenzoyl)-Lys-Glu-Arg-Ser-Lys-Arg-Ser-Ala-Leu-Arg-Asp-(3-nitro)Ty r-Ala, was synthesized. In spite of the distance (approx. 33 A) separating the fluorescent donor/acceptor pair, the highly fluorescent o-aminobenzoyl group is efficiently quenched by long-range resonance energy transfer to the (3-nitro)Tyr moiety. Both recombinant human PC1 and human furin recognize and cleave specifically this substrate at the expected Arg-Ser site in a sensitive manner. The Km values for human PC1 and human furin were 17 microM and 30 microM respectively, with Vmax. values of 6.4 microM/h and 18 microM/h. These values differ significantly from those obtained when using a 7-amino-4-methylcoumarin-containing pentapeptidyl substrate where, for similar Km values, the Vmax. values were much lower. The peptide sequence was used to synthesize another peptide incorporating a ketomethylene arginyl pseudopeptide bond. This compound proved to be a potent competitive inhibitor of both human PC1 and human furin, displaying Ki values of 7.2 microM and 2.4 microM respectively.

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