Tervalent cations of the lanthanide (rare-earth) elements reversibly inhibit bacterial collagenase (clostridiopeptidase A; EC 3.4.24.3). Sm3+, whose ionic radius is closest to that of Ca2+, is the most effective inhibitor, completely suppressing clostridiopeptidase activity at a concentration of 100μm in the presence of 5mm-Ca2+. Er3+ and Lu3+, which both have ionic radii smaller than either Ca2+ or Sm3+, inhibit less efficiently, and La3+, which is slightly larger than Ca2+ or Sm3+, inhibits only weakly. These findings indicate a closely fitting, stereospecific, Ca2+-binding pocket in clostridiopeptidase, which excludes ions that are only slightly larger than Ca2+ [ionic radius 0.099nm (0.99 Ȧ)]. By contrast, trypsin, an enzyme whose activity does not depend on Ca2+, requires lanthanide concentrations 50–100-fold greater for inhibition. Furthermore, the relative efficiency of inhibition of trypsin by lanthanides increases as the lanthanide ions become smaller and the charge/volume ratio increases. At a concentration of 50μm, Sm3+ lowers the apparent Km for the hydrolysis of Pz-peptide by clostridiopeptidase from 5.4mm to 0.37mm and the apparent Vmax. from 0.29 Wünsch–Heidrich unit to 0.018 unit. Thus Sm3+ enhances the affinity of this enzyme for its substrate; inhibition of hydrolysis of Pz-peptide may result from the excessive stability of the enzyme–Sm3+–substrate complex. Inhibition by Sm3+ is competitive with regard to Ca2+. The apparent dissociation constant, Kd, of Ca2+ is 0.27mm, where the Ki for Sm3+ is 12μm. Clostridiopeptidase is more thermolabile in the absence of Ca2+. With Sm3+, thermoinactivation of the enzyme at 53°C or 60°C is initially accelerated, but then becomes retarded as heating continues. Lanthanide ions bind to gelatin and collagen. In so doing, they appear to protect these substrates from lysis by clostridiopeptidase through mechanisms additional to supplanting Ca2+ at its binding site on the enzyme. Collagen and gelatin sequester sufficient lanthanide ions to gain partial protection from clostridiopeptidase in the absence of an extraneous source of these inhibitors.

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