Overexpression and characterization of a prolyl endopeptidase from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus.
The maltose-regulated mlr-2 gene from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus having homology to bacterial and eukaryal prolyl endopeptidase (PEPase) was cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli. Extracts from recombinant cells were capable of hydrolyzing the PEPase substrate benzyloxycarbonyl-Gly-Pro-p-nitroanilide (ZGPpNA) with a temperature optimum between 85 and 90 degrees C. Denaturing gel electrophoresis of purified PEPase showed that enzyme activity was associated with a 70-kDa protein, which is consistent with that predicted from the mlr-2 sequence. However, an apparent molecular mass of 59 kDa was obtained from gel permeation studies. In addition to ZGPpNA (K(Mapp) of 53 microM), PEPase was capable of hydrolyzing azocasein, although at a low rate. No activity was detected when ZGPpNA was replaced by substrates for carboxypeptidase A and B, chymotrypsin, subtilisin, and neutral endopeptidase. N-[N-(L-3-trans-Carboxirane-2-carbonyl)-L-Leu]-agmatine (E-64) and tosyl-L-Lys chloromethyl ketone did not inhibit PEPase activity. Both phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride and diprotin A inhibited ZGPpNA cleavage, the latter doing so competitively (K(lapp) of 343 microM). At 100 degrees C, the enzyme displayed some tolerance to sodium dodecyl sulfate treatment. Stability of PEPase over time was dependent on protein concentration; at temperatures above 65 degrees C, dilute samples retained most of their activity after 24 h while the activity of concentrated preparations diminished significantly. This decrease was found to be due, in part, to autoproteolysis. Partially purified PEPase from P. furiosus exhibited the same temperature optimum, molecular weight, and kinetic characteristics as the enzyme overexpressed in E. coli. Extracts from P. furiosus cultures grown in the presence of maltose were approximately sevenfold greater in PEPase activity than those grown without maltose. Activity could not be detected in clarified medium obtained from maltose-grown cultures. We conclude that mlr-2, now called prpA, encodes PEPase; the physiological role of this protease is presently unknown.