The expression of cell-surface peptidases was examined in two human colon carcinoma cell lines, Caco-2 and HT-29. Enzymic assays revealed the presence of eight cell-surface peptidases on a Caco-2 cell line (passage number 82-88), namely aminopeptidase N, dipeptidyl peptidase IV, peptidyl dipeptidase A (angiotension-converting enzyme), aminopeptidase P, aminopeptidase W, endopeptidase-24.11, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase and membrane dipeptidase. The presence of dipeptidyl peptidase IV and endopeptidase-24.11 was also confirmed immunochemically. After 15 days culture, the activities of aminopeptidase P, peptidyl dipeptidase A and alkaline phosphatase activities on Caco-2 cells reached a plateau, and that of membrane dipeptidase began to decline. In contrast, aminopeptidase N, dipeptidyl peptidase IV and endopeptidase-24.11 activities were still rising after 26 days in culture. Caco-2 cells of passage number 181-183 were found to lack endopeptidase-24.11, but maintained dipeptidyl peptidase IV expression. Two populations of HT-29 cells were surveyed. Both the standard, undifferentiated population and a differentiated population expressed only three peptidases: dipeptidyl peptidase IV, aminopeptidase W and carboxypeptidase M. In the differentiated HT-29 cells the activity of dipeptidyl peptidase IV after 14-21 days was beginning to plateau whereas aminopeptidase W activity was still rising and that of carboxypeptidase M had begun to decline. These differences in activity profiles observed among this group of cell-surface peptidases indicate that these cell lines, especially Caco-2, are useful models to study the regulation of their expression.

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