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Purification and Characterization of Protease So, a Cytoplasmic Serine Protease in Escherichia coli

  • Chin Ha Chung
  • Alfred L. Goldberg
Publication Date
Apr 01, 1983
  • Biology
  • Chemistry


A new cytoplasmic endoprotease, named protease So, was purified to homogeneity from Escherichia coli by conventional procedures with casein as the substrate. Its molecular weight was 140,000 when determined by gel filtration on Sephadex G-200 and 77,000 when estimated by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulfate. Thus, it appears to be composed of two identical subunits. Protease So had an isoelectric point of 6.4 and a Km of 1.4 μM for casein. In addition to casein, it hydrolyzed globin, glucagon, and denatured bovine serum albumin to acid-soluble peptides but did not degrade insulin, native bovine serum albumin, or the “auto α” fragment of β-galactosidase. A variety of commonly used peptide substrates for endoproteases were not hydrolyzed by protease So. It had a broad pH optimum of 6.5 to 8.0. This enzyme is a serine protease, since it was inhibited by diisopropyl fluorophosphate and phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride. Although it was not inhibited by chelating agents, divalent cations (e.g., Mg2+) stabilized its activity. Protease So was sensitive to inhibition by N-tosyl-l-phenylalanine chloromethyl ketone but not by N-tosyl-l-lysine chloromethyl ketone. Neither ATP nor 5′-diphosphate-guanosine-3′-diphosphate affected the rate of casein hydrolysis. Protease So was distinct from the other soluble endoproteases in E. coli (including proteases Do, Re, Mi, Fa, La, Ci, and Pi) in its physical and chemical properties and also differed from the membrane-associated proteases, protease IV and V, and from two amino acid esterases, originally named protease I and II. The physiological function of protease So is presently unknown.

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