Neutral endopeptidase 24.11 in human neutrophils: cleavage of chemotactic peptide

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Dec;82(24):8737-41. doi: 10.1073/pnas.82.24.8737.


Membrane metallo-endopeptidase (NEP; neutral endopeptidase, kidney-brush-border neutral proteinase, enkephalinase, EC cleaves peptides at the amino side of hydrophobic amino acids. While the enzyme is known to be in organs such as kidney and brain, we found it in human neutrophils. These cells cleaved the NEP substrate glutaryl (Glut)-Ala-Ala-Phe-(4-methoxynaphthylamine) (Glut-Ala-Ala-Phe-MNA) at a rate of 9.5 nmol X hr-1 per 10(6) cells, and phosphoramidon (1 microM) inhibited the hydrolysis by 90%. Intact neutrophils from donors who smoked had NEP activities about twice that of nonsmokers. Subcellular fractionation and sucrose density gradient centrifugation of lysed neutrophils showed that most of the NEP activity was membrane bound. A washed membrane fraction from human neutrophils rapidly cleaved 0.5 mM Glut-Ala-Ala-Phe-MNA (96 nmol X min-1 X mg-1) and the hydrolysis was inhibited by phosphoramidon and by specific antiserum to human renal NEP. The washed membrane fraction also rapidly cleaved 0.1 mM bradykinin (34 nmol X min-1 mg-1) and 0.1 mM fMet-Leu-Phe (49 nmol X min-1 X mg-1). The membrane-bound enzyme cleaved the peptide substrates at the same site as the homogeneous human renal NEP, and phosphoramidon and thiorphan inhibited the hydrolysis. Kinetic studies with pure human renal NEP showed that the chemotactic peptide fMet-Leu-Phe was one of the best biologically active substrates (Km, 59 X 10(-6) M; kcat, 3654 min-1). Immunocytochemistry at the light microscopic level revealed a high concentration of NEP on the cell membrane of neutrophils. This was confirmed with electron microscopy using the immunogold technique on ultrathin cryosections. These studies indicate that NEP in neutrophils may have important functions in inflammation and chemotaxis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bradykinin / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / enzymology
  • Endopeptidases / blood*
  • Female
  • Gold
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • N-Formylmethionine Leucyl-Phenylalanine / metabolism
  • Neprilysin
  • Neutrophils / enzymology*
  • Smoking


  • N-Formylmethionine Leucyl-Phenylalanine
  • Gold
  • Endopeptidases
  • Neprilysin
  • Bradykinin