Human mesotrypsin is a unique digestive protease specialized for the degradation of trypsin inhibitors

Richárd Szmola, Zoltán Kukor, Miklós Sahin-Tóth

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Abstract

Mesotrypsin is an enigmatic minor human trypsin isoform, which has been recognized for its peculiar resistance to natural trypsin inhibitors such as soybean trypsin inhibitor (SBTI) or human pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor (SPINK1). In search of a biological function, two conflicting theories proposed that due to its inhibitor-resistant activity mesotrypsin could prematurely activate or degrade pancreatic zymogens and thus play a pathogenic or protective role in human pancreatitis. In the present study we ruled out both theories by demonstrating that mesotrypsin was grossly defective not only in inhibitor binding, but also in the activation or degradation of pancreatic zymogens. We found that the restricted ability of mesotrypsin to bind inhibitors or to hydrolyze protein substrates was solely due to a single evolutionary mutation, which changed the serine-protease signature glycine 198 residue to arginine. Remarkably, the same mutation endowed mesotrypsin with a novel and unique function: mesotrypsin rapidly hydrolyzed the reactive-site peptide bond of the Kunitz-type trypsin inhibitor SBTI, and irreversibly degraded the Kazal-type temporary inhibitor SPINK1. The observations suggest that the biological function of human mesotrypsin is digestive degradation of trypsin inhibitors. This mechanism can facilitate the digestion of foods rich in natural trypsin inhibitors. Furthermore, the findings raise the possibility that inappropriate activation of mesotrypsinogen in the pancreas might lower protective SPINK1 levels and contribute to the development of human pancreatitis. In this regard, it is noteworthy that the well known pathological trypsinogen activator cathepsin B exhibited a preference for the activation of mesotrypsinogen of all three human trypsinogen isoforms, suggesting a biochemical mechanism for mesotrypsinogen activation in pancreatic acinar cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48580-48589
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume278
Issue number49
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 5 2003

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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