Prohormone convertase 1 (PC1) is a serine proteinase responsible for the proteolytic processing of many precursor proteins within the regulated secretory pathway. The activity of PC1 is potentially regulated by two endogenous inhibitors, the PC1 propeptide and proSAAS. Here we have investigated the effect of proSAAS and propeptide-containing constructs on PC1 carboxy-terminal processing and activity. In AtT-20 cells, proSAAS expression inhibited both C-terminal PC1 processing and proopiomelanocortin (POMC) processing under pulse/chase conditions. SAAS CT peptide-propeptide chimeric constructs had no effect on the cleavage of PC1 and POMC under pulse/chase conditions. However, a construct containing the propeptide alone reduced C-terminal PC1 processing under pulse/chase conditions and also inhibited POMC processing. In contrast, experiments using HEK293 cells transiently expressing PC1 plus the respective constructs demonstrated significant inhibition of zymogen processing and decreased C-terminal processing of PC1 by the SAAS CT peptide portion of the chimera. Our results suggest that the PC1 propeptide expressed in trans is able to act as an endogenous inhibitor of PC1, but that SAAS CT peptide-containing/propeptide constructs cannot function as effective inhibitors of precursor maturation in the regulated pathway.
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