Proteinase I, an enzyme previously shown to be able to degrade contractile and cytoskeletal elements of white-croaker (Micropogon opercularis) myofibrils, was purified to apparent homogeneity by chromatography on DEAE-Sephacel, octyl-Sepharose CL 4B and arginine-Sepharose 4B. Its Mr was determined to be 269,000 by Sephacryl S-300 gel filtration. Under denaturing conditions, the enzyme dissociated into two subunits with Mr 20,000 and 15,500, in a molar ratio of 1.8:1. Proteinase I showed a pH optimum of 8.5. The enzyme was strongly inhibited by several serine proteinase inhibitors, whereas inhibitors of the other types of proteinases did not affect, or only scarcely affected, its activity. Several N-terminal-blocked 4-methyl-7-coumarylamide substrates having either arginine or lysine residues adjacent to the fluorogenic group were efficiently hydrolysed by the enzyme. These results indicate that proteinase I is a trypsin-like serine proteinase. The enzyme appears to be distinct from other proteinases previously described in skeletal muscle, and might be involved in the catabolism of myofibrillar proteins.

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