Avian retroviral protease and cellular aspartic proteases are distinguished by activities on peptide substrates

M. Kotler, W. Danho, R. A. Katz, J. Leis, A. M. Skalka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The avian sarcoma/leukemia virus protease (PR), purified from avian myeloblastosis virus has a native molecular mass of 26 kDa, suggesting a dimer structure. The enzymatic activity of PR has been characterized using synthetic peptide substrates. PR is most active at pH 5.5, 35°C and 2-3 M NaCl. Under these conditions PR cleaves decapeptides which are resistant in low ionic strength. This high, nonphysiological, salt concentration also increases the proteolytic activity of a cellular aspartic protease, pepsin. PR and pepsin show additional similarities: they both cleave a synthetic decapeptide at the same Tyr-Pro bond in low and high salt, while the cleavage site preferences of human renin and cathepsin-D in this substrate are altered at high salt concentrations. In addition, iodination of the tyrosine residue in this decapeptide causes an increase in the rates of hydrolysis by both PR and pepsin. However, K(m) values are too high to be estimated accurately for PR using Tyr-Pro and Tyr(I)-Pro decapeptides as substrates. Comparison of the digestion products of two additional decapeptides, altered in a single amino acid residue, shows that PR cleaves at fewer sites than all three cellular enzymes. Furthermore pepstatin, a strong inhibitor of pepsin, renin, and cathepsin-D has little effect on PR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3428-3435
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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