The major breakthrough discovery of enkephalins as endogenous opiates led our attempts to determine their inactivation mechanisms. Because the NH2-terminal tyrosine is absolutely necessary for the neuropeptides to exert analgesic effects, and aminopeptidase activities are extraordinarily high in the brain, a specific "amino-enkephalinase" should exist. Several aminopeptidases were identified in the central nervous system during the search. In fact, our laboratory found two novel neuron-specific aminopeptidases: NAP and NAP-2. NAP is the only functionally active brain-specific enzyme known. Its synaptic location coupled with its limited substrate specificity could constitute a "functional" specificity and contribute to enkephalin-specific functions. In addition, NAP was found to be essential for neuron growth, differentiation, and death. Thus, aminopeptidases are likely important for mental health and neurological diseases. Recently, puromycin-sensitive aminopeptidase (PSA) was identified as a modifier of tau-induced neurodegeneration. Because the enzymatic similarity between PSA and NAP, we believe that the depletion of NAP in Alzheimer's disease (AD) brains plays a causal role in the development of AD pathology. Therefore, use of the puromycin-sensitive neuron-aminopeptidase NAP could provide neuroprotective mechanisms in AD and similar neurodegenerative diseases.
"Oxidation of the Met residue to its sulfoxide does not compromise the analgesic activity of Met-Enk . However, because the Tyr residue and its terminal amine group are pivotal for the activity of both Met-Enk and Leu-Enk  , these oxidative Tyr modifications could dampen their opiate effect. Moreover, hydroperoxides are highly reactive species that could have adverse biological effects. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neutrophils play a major role in acute inflammation in part by generating superoxide and an array of other reactive species. These white blood cells also contribute to protection against inflammatory pain by releasing opioid peptides. The biochemical interactions of enkephalins with neutrophil-derived oxidants are not well understood. In this investigation we reveal that neutrophils use myeloperoxidase to oxidize enkephalins to their corresponding tyrosyl free radicals, which react preferentially with the superoxide to form a hydroperoxide. In methionine enkephalin, rapid intramolecular oxygen transfer from the hydroperoxide to the Met sulfur results in the formation of a sulfoxide derivative. This reaction may occur at sites of inflammation where enkephalins are released and neutrophils generate large amounts of superoxide. Hydroperoxide formation destroys the aromatic character of the Tyr residue by forming a bicyclic structure via conjugate addition of the terminal amine to the phenol ring. As the N-terminal Tyr and its amino group are essential for their opiate activity, we hypothesize that oxidative modification of this residue should affect the analgesic activity of enkephalins.
Free Radical Biology and Medicine 09/2010; 49(5):792-9. DOI:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2010.05.033 · 5.74 Impact Factor
"Peak III aminopeptidase differs from NAP and PSA in development, as well as chromatographic behavior, occurrence, tissue and subcellular distribution, hydrolytic kinetics, and substrate and inhibitor specificities imply that Peak III aminopeptidase is a new type of NAP (Table 5). We designate it as neuron-specific aminopeptidase type 2 (NAP-2) since it is the brain-specific enzyme found after NAP (Hui, 2007b). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A novel neutral aminopeptidase (NAP-2) was found exclusively in the rat central nervous system (CNS). It was separated from the ubiquitous puromycin-sensitive aminopeptidase (PSA) and the neuron-specific aminopeptidase (NAP) by an automated FPLC-aminopeptidase analyzer. The activity of the neuronal aminopeptidase enriched in the synaptosomes is different from NAP and PSA in distribution and during brain development. The enzyme was purified 2230-fold to apparent homogeneity from rat brain cytosol with 4% recovery by ammonium sulfate fractionation, followed by column chromatography successively on Phenyl-Sepharose, Q-Sepharose, Sephadex G-200, and Mono Q. The single-chain enzyme with a molecular mass of 110kDa has an optimal pH of 7.0 and a pI of 5.6. It splits beta-naphthylamides of amino acid with aliphatic, polar uncharged, positively charged, and aromatic side chain. Leucyl beta-naphthylamide (Leu betaNA) is the best substrate with the highest hydrolytic coefficiency followed by Met betaNA=Arg betaNA=Lys betaNA>Ala betaNA>Tyr betaNA>Phe betaNA. The cysteine-, metallo-, glyco-aminopeptidase releases the N-terminal Tyr from Leu-enkephalin with a K(m) 82microM and a k(cat) of 1.08s(-1), and Met-enkephalin with a K(m) of 106microM and a k(cat) of 2.6s(-1). The puromycin-sensitive enzyme is most susceptible to amastatin with an IC(50) of 0.05microM. The data indicate that the enzyme is a new type of NAP found in rodent. Its possible function in neuron growth, neurodegeneration, and carcinomas is discussed.
Neurochemistry International 09/2008; 53(6-8):317-24. DOI:10.1016/j.neuint.2008.09.003 · 3.09 Impact Factor
"All these results suggest hyperactivity of serotonergic transmission in high-5HT rat subline in comparison with that of low-5HT subline. There is an increasing body of evidence that cytosolic endo-and exopeptidases, in addition to membranebound proteases, are involved in the metabolism of biologically active peptides (for review see Shrimpton et al., 2002; Hui, 2007). In this work, the activities of three cytosolic APs were measured in brains and body organs in WZ-5HT rats from both sublines. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The co-localization of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5HT) and neuroactive peptides in the same neuron points to the importance of interactions between serotonergic and peptidergic systems in maintaining body homeostasis. In this work, we used an original genetic rat model to search for possible interrelations between 5HT system functioning and the activities of aminopeptidases, i.e. enzymes which are the key regulators of (neuro)peptides level/function. The activities of three cytosolic exopeptidases: alanyl aminopeptidase (alanyl-AP), arginyl aminopeptidase (arginyl-AP) and dipeptidyl peptidase III (DPP III) were measured in brains and peripheral tissues of the sublines of rats with constitutionally upregulated/downregulated 5HT transporter activity. These rat sublines, termed as high-5HT and low-5HT subline, have been obtained previously by selective breeding for the extreme values of platelet 5HT level and velocity of 5HT uptake. Besides in the periphery they show marked alterations also in brain 5HT function, indicating the differences in central 5HT transmission/homeostasis. In this study, we have found that animals from the high-5HT subline have significantly lower activity of brain alanyl-AP (p<0.05) and arginyl-AP (p<0.01) as compared to control animals. No other differences were noticed regardless of the 5HT subline, investigated organ or analyzed aminopeptidase. Results suggest that the constitutional upregulation of serotonergic activity may be related to a lowered brain cytosolic aminopeptidase activity which may have an influence on the cleavage of their physiological substrates.
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