The C-terminal domain of aminopeptidase A is an intramolecular chaperone required for the correct folding, cell surface expression, and activity of this monozinc aminopeptidase

J Biol Chem. 2004 Oct 8;279(41):43285-95. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M404369200. Epub 2004 Jul 19.


Aminopeptidase A (APA, EC is a type II integral membrane glycoprotein responsible for the conversion of angiotensin II to angiotensin III in the brain. Previous site-directed mutagenesis studies and the recent molecular modeling of the APA zinc metallopeptidase domain have shown that all the amino acids involved in catalysis are located between residues 200 and 500. The APA ectodomain is cleaved in the kidney into an N-terminal fragment corresponding to the zinc metallopeptidase domain, and a C-terminal fragment of unknown function. We investigated the function of this C-terminal domain, by expressing truncated APAs in Chinese hamster ovary and AtT-20 cells. Deletion of the C-terminal domain abolished the maturation and enzymatic activity of the N-terminal domain, which was retained in the endoplasmic reticulum as an unfolded protein bound to calnexin. Expression in trans of the C-terminal domain resulted in association of the N- and C-terminal domains soon after biosynthesis, allowing folding rescue, maturation, cell surface expression, and activity of the N-terminal zinc metallopeptidase domain. We also show that the C-terminal domain is not required for the catalytic activity of APA but is essential for its activation. Moreover, we show that the C-terminal domain of aminopeptidase N (EC, APN) also promotes maturation and cell surface expression of the N-terminal domain of APN, suggesting a common role of the C-terminal domain in the monozinc aminopeptidase family. Our data provide the first demonstration that the C-terminal domain of an eukaryotic exopeptidase acts as an intramolecular chaperone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aminopeptidases / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • CHO Cells
  • Calnexin / chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cricetinae
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Gene Deletion
  • Glutamyl Aminopeptidase / chemistry*
  • Glutamyl Aminopeptidase / metabolism
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / chemistry
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Kinetics
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Models, Chemical
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Plasmids / metabolism
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Time Factors
  • Transfection
  • Trypsin / pharmacology
  • Zinc / chemistry


  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Calnexin
  • Glycoside Hydrolases
  • Aminopeptidases
  • Glutamyl Aminopeptidase
  • Trypsin
  • Zinc