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J Biol Chem. 1991 Jul 5;266(19):12633-8.

Identification of renal cathepsin B as a human prorenin-processing enzyme.

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Department of Medicine, Los Angeles County, Medical Center 90033.


Prorenin, the inactive biosynthetic precursor of renin, is proteolytically cleaved in the renal juxtaglomerular cells to renin. The activity of renin is rate-limiting for generation of angiotensin II in the circulation. We identified a renal thiol protease which activates and accurately cleaves the 43-amino acid prosegment of human recombinant prorenin. In the current studies, 6.5 mg of this protease was purified from human renal cortex using a three-step procedure dependent upon Leu-Leu-arginyl affinity chromatography. This represented an overall 766-fold purification and resulted in three protein bands on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of molecular weights 30,000, 25,000, and 24,000. All three bands cross-reacted with an anti-human liver cathepsin B antibody upon immunoblot analysis; electrolution of each band and amino-terminal sequence analysis confirmed that the Mr 30,000 protein was mature cathepsin B and the Mr 25,000 and 24,000 bands were cathepsin B subunits. The pH optimum for the hydrolysis of pure human recombinant prorenin by pure renal cathepsin B was 6, and the Michaelis-Menten constant, Km, of the reaction was 1.4 x 10(-9) M. Immunostaining of human kidney using a sheep anti-human cathepsin B antibody demonstrated the presence of cathepsin B in the juxtaglomerular areas of the kidney, as well as in the renal proximal tubules. Electron microscopic immunohistochemistry using the same antibody demonstrated cathepsin B in dense secretory granules of the juxtaglomerular cells. Renin was also shown to be present in these granules. This study provides both biochemical and morphological evidence that renal cathepsin B is a human prorenin-processing enzyme.

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