Dipeptidyl peptidase IV, an enzyme that releases dipeptides from substrates with N-terminal sequences of the forms X-Pro-Y or X-Ala-Y, was purified 300-fold from pig kidney cortex. The kidney is the main source of the enzyme, where it is one of the major microvillus-membrane proteins. Several other tissues contained demonstrable activity against the usual assay substrate glycylproline 2-naphthylamide. In the small intestine this activity was greatly enriched in the microvillus fraction. In all tissues examined, the activity was extremely sensitive to inhibition by di-isopropyl phosphorofluoridate (Dip-F), but relatively resistant to inhibition by phenylmethylsulphonyl fluoride. It is a serine proteinase which may be covalently labelled with [32P]Dip-F, and is the only enzyme of this class in the microvillus membrane. The apparent subunit mol.wt. estimated by sodium dodecyl-sulphate/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis and by titration with [32P]Dip-F was 130 000. Gel-filtration and sedimentation-equilibrium methods gave values in the region of 280 000, which is consistent with a dimeric structure, a conclusion supported by electron micrographs of the purified enzyme. Among other well-characterized serine proteinases, this enzyme is unique in its membrane location and its large subunit size. Investigation of the mode of attack of the peptidase on oligopeptides revealed that it could hydrolyse certain N-blocked peptides, e.g. Z-Gly-Pro-Leu-Gly-Pro. In this respect it is acting as an endopeptidase and as such may merit reclassification and renaming as microvillus-membrane serine peptidase.

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