A proteolytic enzyme was purified from the post-myofibrillar fraction of rat skeletal muscle. The purification procedure consisted of fractionation of the muscle extract by (NH4)2SO4, chromatography on DEAE-Sephacel, fast protein liquid chromatography on Mono Q and gel filtration on Sepharose 6B. The enzyme preparation appeared to be homogeneous as judged by disc electrophoresis in polyacrylamide gels and by immunoelectrophoresis. The isoelectric point of the proteinase is at 5.1-5.2. The enzyme has an Mr of about 650 000 and dissociates into eight subunits of Mr 25 000-32 000 when subjected to electrophoresis in sodium dodecyl sulphate/polyacrylamide gels. The proteinase contains hydrolytic activity against N-blocked tripeptide 4-methyl-7-coumarylamide substrates with an arginine or phenylalanine residue adjacent to the leaving group. Maximum activity with the first group of substrates was at pH 10.5, and this activity was inhibited by leupeptin, chymostatin and Ca2+. Maximum activity with the latter group of substrates was at pH 7.5, and was also inhibited by the two microbial inhibitors, but was activated by Ca2+ ions. By using [14C]methylcasein as a substrate, maximum activity was observed at pH9.0, and this proteolytic activity was not affected by leupeptin, was enhanced by chymostatin and inhibited by Ca2+. Similar effects were observed when benzyloxycarbonyl-Leu-Leu-Glu 2-naphthylamide was used as a substrate. These enzymic activities were abolished by p-hydroxymercuribenzenesulphonic acid or mersalyl acid, whereas a small activation was observed with cysteine or dithiothreitol.

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