Chymotrypsin C (caldecrin) promotes degradation of human cationic trypsin: Identity with Rinderknecht's enzyme Y

Richárd Szmola, Miklós Sahin-Tóth

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Digestive trypsins undergo proteolytic breakdown during their transit in the human alimentary tract, which has been assumed to occur through trypsin-mediated cleavages, termed autolysis. Autolysis was also postulated to play a protective role against pancreatitis by eliminating prematurely activated intrapancreatic trypsin. However, autolysis of human cationic trypsin is very slow in vitro, which is inconsistent with the documented intestinal trypsin degradation or a putative protective role. Here we report that degradation of human cationic trypsin is triggered by chymotrypsin C, which selectively cleaves the Leu81-Glu82 peptide bond within the Ca2+ binding loop. Further degradation and inactivation of cationic trypsin is then achieved through tryptic cleavage of the Arg122-Val123 peptide bond. Consequently, mutation of either Leu81 or Arg 122 blocks chymotrypsin C-mediated trypsin degradation. Calcium affords protection against chymotrypsin C-mediated cleavage, with complete stabilization observed at 1 mM concentration. Chymotrypsin C is highly specific in promoting trypsin degradation, because chymotrypsin B1, chymotrypsin B2, elastase 2A, elastase 3A, or elastase 3B are ineffective. Chymotrypsin C also rapidly degrades all three human trypsinogen isoforms and appears identical to enzyme Y, the enigmatic trypsinogen-degrading activity described by Heinrich Rinderknecht in 1988. Taken together with previous observations, the results identify chymotrypsin C as a key regulator of activation and degradation of cationic trypsin. Thus, in the high Ca2+ environment of the duodenum, chymotrypsin C facilitates trypsinogen activation, whereas in the lower intestines, chymotrypsin C promotes trypsin degradation as a function of decreasing luminal Ca2+ concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11227-11232
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - júl. 3 2007


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