Purification and characterization of a high molecular weight proteinase (macropain) from human erythrocytes

Michael J. McGuire, George N. DeMartino

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84 Scopus citations


An alkaline proteinase, previously identified in rat liver and heart, has been purified from the soluble fraction of human erythrocytes. The proteinase has an apparent molecular weight of 600 000 and is composed of eight subunits with molecular weights ranging from 32000 to 21000. The proteinase degrades both protein and synthetic peptide substrates with a broad pH optimum of 7.5-11.0. Among the synthetic peptides tested, tripeptides with arginine at the P1 position (e.g. Z-Val-Leu-Arg-4-methoxy-2-napthylamine and Boc-Leu-Gly-Arg-4-methylcoumarin-7-amide) are particularly good substrates. The proteinase appears to be sulfhydryl-dependent and is inhibited completely by mersalyl acid and by hemin; inhibitors of serine and metallo-type proteinases have no effect on proteinase activity. Interestingly, a variety of other proteinase inhibitors such as leupeptin, antipain, chymostatin and N-ethylmaleimide failed to completely inhibit proteinase activity. Furthermore these inhibitors have differential effects on the synthetic peptide- and protein-hydrolyzing activities of the enzyme. These results indicate that these activities may be accounted for by at least two different catalytic sites. Proteinase activity is stable in the presence of 1 M urea, 0.5% Triton X-100 or 0.03% SDS and is not affected by ATP. Based on the high molecular weight and sulfhydryl-dependence, we have named this proteinase macropain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-289
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)/Protein Structure and Molecular
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 26 1986


  • (Human erythrocyte)
  • Cysteine proteinase
  • Macropain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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