Purification and characterization of two types of trypsin-like enzymes from sperm of the ascidian (Prochordata) Halocynthia roretzi. Evidence for the presence of spermosin, a novel acrosin-like enzyme

J Biol Chem. 1984 Mar 10;259(5):2900-4.


Two types of trypsin-like proteases, spermosin and acrosin, have been highly purified from spermatozoa of the ascidian (Prochordata) Halocynthia roretzi by a procedure including diethylaminoethylcellulose chromatography, Sephadex G-100 gel filtration, and soybean trypsin inhibitor-immobilized Sepharose 4B chromatography. Each purified preparation was judged to be homogeneous on the basis of chromatographic analysis and sodium dodecyl sulfate-gel electrophoresis. The molecular weights of spermosin and acrosin were estimated to be 27,000 and 32,000-34,000, respectively, by gel electrophoresis in sodium dodecyl sulfate. The isoelectric point of the former was 6.5, while that of the latter was 5.5. Non-ionic detergents, e.g. Brij 35, showed marked stabilizing effects on the purified enzymes. Both of these enzymes had pH optima between 8.5 and 9.0, and their activities were enhanced by the addition of calcium chloride. The enzymes were inhibited by diisopropyl fluorophosphate, phenylmethanesulfonyl fluoride, leupeptin, antipain, soybean trypsin inhibitor, aprotinin, ovomucoid, valyl-prolyl-arginyl-chloromethane, glycyl-valyl-arginyl-chloromethane, p-aminobenzamidine, benzamidine, zinc chloride, and mercuric chloride. Lima bean trypsin inhibitor and tosyl-lysyl-chloromethane strongly inhibited acrosin, but not spermosin. While the substrate specificity of acrosin was rather broad, that of spermosin was very narrow; the latter enzyme hydrolyzed only t-butyloxycarbonyl-valyl-prolyl-arginine 4-methylcoumaryl-7-amide among 12 peptidyl-arginine (or lysine) 4-methylcoumaryl-7-amides tested. Thus, the ascidian spermatozoa possess at least two proteases, acrosin and spermosin; the former shows the properties closely related to those of mammalian acrosin (EC, but the latter is a unique type of acrosin-like enzyme in respect to the substrate specificity and inhibitor susceptibility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acrosin / isolation & purification*
  • Acrosin / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Drug Stability
  • Endopeptidases / isolation & purification*
  • Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Molecular Weight
  • Protease Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Serine Endopeptidases*
  • Spermatozoa / enzymology*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Trypsin*
  • Urochordata / enzymology*


  • Protease Inhibitors
  • Endopeptidases
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • spermosin
  • Acrosin
  • Trypsin