The activity of rat liver microsomal glutathione transferase is increased by limited tryptic proteolysis; the membrane-bound and purified forms of the enzyme are activated about 5- and 10-fold respectively. The cleavage sites that correlate with this activation were determined by amino acid sequence analysis to be located after Lys-4 and Lys-41. Differences in the relative extent of cleavage at these two sites did not consistently affect the degree of activation. Thus the data support the conclusion that cleavage at either site results in activation. The trypsin-activated enzyme was compared with the form activated with N-ethylmaleimide, which modifies Cys-49. These two differently activated forms were found to have similar kinetic parameters, which differ from those of the unactivated enzyme. The relatedness of the two types of activation is also demonstrated by the observation that microsomal glutathione transferase fully activated by N-ethylmaleimide is virtually resistant to further activation by trypsin. This is the case despite the fact that the N-ethylmaleimide-activated enzyme is much more susceptible to trypsin cleavage at Lys-41 than is the untreated enzyme. The latter observation indicates that activation with N-ethylmaleimide is accompanied by a conformational change involving Lys-41.

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