Dissecting structural basis of the unique substrate selectivity of human enteropeptidase catalytic subunit

J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2012;30(1):62-73. doi: 10.1080/07391102.2012.674249.


Enteropeptidase is a key enzyme in the digestion system of higher animals. It initiates enzymatic cascade cleaving trypsinogen activation peptide after a unique sequence DDDDK. Recently, we have found specific activity of human enteropeptidase catalytic subunit (L-HEP) being significantly higher than that of its bovine ortholog (L-BEP). Moreover, we have discovered that L-HEP hydrolyzed several nonspecific peptidic substrates. In this work, we aimed to further characterize species-specific enteropeptidase activities and to reveal their structural basis. First, we compared hydrolysis of peptides and proteins lacking DDDDK sequence by L-HEP and L-BEP. In each case human enzyme was more efficient, with the highest hydrolysis rate observed for substrates with a large hydrophobic residue in P2-position. Computer modeling suggested enzyme exosite residues 96 (Arg in L-HEP, Lys in L-BEP) and 219 (Lys in L-HEP, Gln in L-BEP) to be responsible for these differences in enteropeptidase catalytic activity. Indeed, human-to-bovine mutations Arg96Lys, Lys219Gln shifted catalytic properties of L-HEP toward those of L-BEP. This effect was amplified in case of the double mutation Arg96Lys/Lys219Gln, but still did not cover the full difference in catalytic activities of human and bovine enzymes. To find a missing link, we studied monopeptide benzyl-arginine-β-naphthylamide hydrolysis. L-HEP catalyzed it with an order lower K (m) than L-BEP, suggesting the monopeptide-binding S1 site input into catalytic distinction between two enteropeptidase species. Together, our findings suggest structural basis of the unique catalytic properties of human enteropeptidase and instigate further studies of its tentative physiological and pathological roles.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Catalytic Domain*
  • Cattle
  • Enteropeptidase / chemistry*
  • Enteropeptidase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Peptides
  • Enteropeptidase