The sequence of rat procalcitonin reveals that calcitonin is located within the precursor's midregion, flanked by two potential polybasic cleavage sites that separate it from amino- and carboxyl-terminal domains. Cleavage at the polybasic sites during precursor processing to generate the 32-residue calcitonin should also generate 57- and 16-residue peptides from the amino- and carboxyl-terminal flanking regions. The carboxyl-terminal flanking hexadecapeptide and its coordinate secretion from C cells with calcitonin have been previously reported. In the present study we have focused on the predicted 57-residue amino-terminal procalcitonin cleavage peptide (N-proCT). We raised antisera to synthetic peptides homologous to the carboxyl- and amino-terminal regions of the putative 57-amino-acid N-proCT and screened calcitonin-rich neoplastic and nonneoplastic C-cells for these two immunoreactivities. A single species of 7.4 kilodaltons detected in C cells by gel filtration and reversed-phase HPLC analyses accounts for most of the carboxyl- and amino-terminal immunoreactivities and possesses the biochemical and biological features predicted for N-proCT. When C cell hyperplasia is induced by a high fat diet, thyroidal levels of calcitonin and N-proCT increase in parallel. In neoplastic C cell cultures, N-proCT and calcitonin concentrations are nearly equimolar in both cellular extracts and basal medium; dexamethasone increases both the cellular and secreted concentration of these peptides. Basal and dexamethasone-treated cultures show calcium-dependent, parallel secretion of N-proCT and calcitonin. Thus, the 57-residue N-proCT predicted from analysis of the procalcitonin sequence is a secretory peptide that appears to be present in equimolar amounts and coordinately regulated with calcitonin in vivo and in vitro.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology