Lysosomal enzymes are initially synthesized as precursor polypeptides which are proteolytically cleaved to generate mature forms of the enzymatically active protein. The identification of the proteinases involved in this process and their intracellular location will be important initial steps in determining the role of proteolysis in the function and targeting of lysosomal enzymes. Toward this end, axenically growing Dictyostelium discoideum cells were pulse radiolabeled with [35S]methionine and chased in fresh growth medium containing inhibitors of aspartic, metallo, serine, or cysteine proteinases. Cells exposed to the serine/cysteine proteinase inhibitors leupeptin and antipain and the cysteine proteinase inhibitor benzyloxycarbonyl-L-phenylalanyl-L-alanine-diazomethyl ketone (Z-Phe-AlaCHN2) were unable to complete proteolytic processing of the newly synthesized lysosomal enzymes, alpha-mannosidase and beta-glucosidase. Antipain and leupeptin treatment resulted in both a dramatic decrease in the efficiency of proteolytic processing, as well as a sevenfold increase in the secretion of alpha-mannosidase and beta-glucosidase precursors. However, leupeptin and antipain did not stimulate secretion of lysosomally localized mature forms of the enzymes suggesting that these inhibitors prevent the normal sorting of lysosomal enzyme precursors to lysosomes. In contrast to the results observed for cells treated with leupeptin or antipain, Z-Phe-AlaCHN2 did not prevent the cleavage of precursor polypeptides to intermediate forms of the enzymes, but greatly inhibited the production of the mature enzymes. The accumulated intermediate forms of the enzymes, however, were localized to lysosomes. Finally, fractionation of cell extracts on Percoll gradients indicated that the processing of radiolabeled precursor forms of alpha-mannosidase and beta-glucosidase to intermediate products began in cellular compartments intermediate in density between the Golgi complex and mature lysosomes. The generation of the mature forms, in contrast, was completed immediately upon or soon after arrival in lysosomes. Together these results suggest that different proteinases residing in separate intracellular compartments may be involved in generating intermediate and mature forms of lysosomal enzymes in Dictyostelium discoideum, and that the initial cleavage of the precursors may be critical for the proper localization of lysosomal enzymes.

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