Biosynthesis of a lysosomal enzyme. Partial structure of two transient and functionally distinct NH2-terminal sequences in cathepsin D.

A. H. Erickson, G. E. Conner, G. Blobel

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111 Scopus citations


Various biosynthetic forms of porcine spleen cathepsin D (Erickson, A. H. and Blobel, G. (1979) J. Biol. Chem. 254, 11771-11774), isolated by immunoprecipitation of in vivo- and in vitro-synthesized products, have been characterized by partial NH2-terminal sequence analysis. Two short lived and functionally distinct NH2-terminal sequence extensions, a "pre" sequence and a "pro" sequence, have been detected. Both sequence extensions are present in preprocathepsin D which is the primary translation product immunoprecipitated after translation of porcine spleen mRNA in a wheat germ cell-free system. Preprocathepsin D is not glycosylated and has an approximate Mr = 43,000. Its 20-residue pre sequence resembles the signal sequences of presecretory proteins in abundance of Leu residues (7 out of 20 residues). Addition of dog pancreatic microsomal vesicles to the translation system resulted in the cleavage of the pre sequence and yielded segregated and glycosylated procathepsin D (Mr = 46,000) that was indistinguishable from its in vivo-synthesized counterpart detected after pulse-labeling of cultured porcine kidney cells. Some of this in vivo-synthesized procathepsin D was secreted and persisted as such in the culture medium. The remainder was converted within a period of 15 min to 2 h to single chain cathepsin D (Mr = 44,000) by removal of a pro sequence which was estimated to be 44 residues. Its partial sequence showed considerable sequence homology to the 44-residue activation peptide of pepsinogen. It is possible, therefore, that the prosequence of procathepsin D serves as an activation peptide that keeps the enzyme inactive during intracellular transport to the lysosome. The enzymatically active single chain form of cathepsin D undergoes further cleavage into a light and a heavy chain (Mr = 15,000 and 30,000, respectively) over a period of 2-24 h after synthesis. The oligosaccharide moieties of procathepsin D and of the single chain and heavy chain forms of cathepsin D are cleaved by endoglycosidase H. Treatment of cells with tunicamycin arrests the biosynthetic pathway of cathepsin D at procathepsin D. The nonglycosylated procathepsin D is not proteolytically processed and its secretion is greatly inhibited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11224-11231
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 10 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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