Background & aims: Many putative pronucleating proteins have been isolated from the biliary concanavalin A (con A)-binding fraction. The pronase resistance of the overall nucleating-promoting activity was almost never taken into consideration. The aim of this study was to identify the major pronase-resistant con A-binding glycoproteins.
Methods: Pronase-treated and -untreated con A-binding glycoproteins were separated on a Superose 12 gel permeation column (Pharmacia, Uppsala, Sweden) and tested in a crystal growth assay. Proteins were identified by amino-terminal sequencing.
Results: Con A-binding pronucleating activity eluted in two peaks on the Superose column. This activity was unaltered after pronase treatment. Activity peak I contained too little protein to allow amino-terminal sequencing. In activity peak II, the major pronase-resistant con A-binding glycoproteins were identified as alpha 1-antitrypsin and alpha 1-antichymotrypsin. The 130-kilodalton nucleation promoter was identified as aminopeptidase N, but the full pronase resistance of this protein, reported earlier, was not confirmed. Immunoabsorptive removal of alpha 1-antitrypsin and alpha 1-antichymotrypsin and immunopurification showed that only alpha 1-antichymotrypsin had pronucleating activity.
Conclusions: The pronase resistance of the nucleating-promoting activity of the con A-binding glycoprotein fraction was confirmed. An important part of this activity could be attributed to alpha 1-antichymotrypsin. It is an acute-phase protein, as are many other pronucleating proteins, which might indicate a general mechanism of action in gallstone formation.