Degradation of microtubule-associated protein 2 and brain spectrin by calpain: a comparative study

J Neurochem. 1991 May;56(5):1630-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.1991.tb02061.x.


The in vitro degradation of microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP-2) and spectrin by the calcium-dependent neutral protease calpain was studied. Five major results are reported. First, MAP-2 isolated from twice-cycled microtubules (2 X MT MAP-2) was extremely sensitive to calpain-induced hydrolysis. Even at an enzyme-to-substrate ratio (wt/wt) of 1:200, 2 X MT MAP-2 was significantly degraded by calpain. Second, MAP-2 purified from the total brain heat-stable fraction (total MAP-2) was significantly more resistant to calpain-induced hydrolysis compared with 2 X MT MAP-2. Third, MAP-2a and MAP-2b were proteolyzed similarly by calpain, although some relative resistance of MAP-2b was observed. Fourth, the presence of calmodulin significantly increased the extent of calpain-induced hydrolysis of the alpha-subunit of spectrin. Fifth, the two neuronal isoforms of brain spectrin (240/235 and 240/235E, referred to as alpha/beta N and alpha/beta E, respectively) showed different sensitivities to calpain. alpha N-spectrin was significantly more sensitive to calpain-induced degradation compared to alpha E-spectrin. Among other things, these results suggest a role for the calpain-induced degradation of MAP-2, as well as spectrin, in such physiological processes as alterations in synaptic efficacy, dendritic remodeling, and in pathological processes associated with neurodegeneration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Calmodulin / pharmacology
  • Calpain / metabolism*
  • Hydrolysis
  • Isomerism
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Spectrin / metabolism*


  • Calmodulin
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Spectrin
  • Calpain