Uroguanylin and guanylin are peptides isolated from urine and intestinal mucosa, which regulate cyclic GMP production in enterocytes by activating an apical membrane, receptor-guanylate cyclase. This study extended our previous findings, which showed that colonic mucosa of opossums contained uroguanylin and guanylin peptides, by purifying prouroguanylin and proguanylin from this tissue. Prouroguanylin and proguanylin coeluted from Sephadex G-75 gelfiltration columns with a similar molecular size between 6 and 12 kDa. Mass spectrometry indicated that proguanylin (approximately 8.7 kDa) had a 10% lower molecular mass than prouroguanylin (approximately 9.7 kDa). Isoelectric focusing separated prouroguanylin (pI approximately 4.5) from proguanylin (pI approximately 7.5). N-terminal sequence analysis of reverse phrase-HPLC purified prohormones revealed 13 amino acids in opossum proguanylin that shared 77-85% identity with human and rat proguanylin, but only 23% identity with opossum prouroguanylin. The N-terminal 19 residues obtained for opossum prouroguanylin shared 32-42% identity with rat and human proguanylin. Prouroguanylin and proguanylin were both inactive and required pretreatment with proteases to elicit cyclic GMP responses in T84 cells. V8 protease treatment of proguanylin liberated a bioactive, 16-amino acid form of guanylin. Chymotrypsin treatment activated prouroguanylin, but inactivated the bioactive peptide domain within proguanylin. In summary, colonic mucosa contains the bioactive peptide and inactive prohormone forms of uroguanylin and guanylin. Thus, after proteolytic processing of prouroguanylin and proguanylin, bioactive uroguanylin and guanylin could both function to regulate guanylate cyclase activity by autocrine and/or paracrine actions on enterocytes. Also, these peptide hormones are implicated in an intestinal-renal axis for the endocrine regulation of salt and water homeostasis.