The structural gene for yeast vacuolar carboxypeptidase Y (PRC1) has been cloned by complementation of the prc1-1 mutation. As much as an eightfold elevation in the level of carboxypeptidase Y (CPY) results when a multiple-copy plasmid containing the PRC1 gene is introduced into yeast. Unlike the situation with a single copy of PRC1 in which newly synthesized CPY is efficiently localized to the vacuole, plasmid-directed overproduction results in secretion of greater than 50% of the protein as the precursor form. Secretion is blocked in a mutant that is defective at a late stage in the transport of periplasmic proteins. Unlike normal cell surface glycoproteins, secreted CPY precursor acquires no additional oligosaccharide modifications beyond those that accompany normal transport to the vacuole. In the periplasm, the CPY precursor is proteolytically activated to an enzymatically active form by an enzyme that is unrelated to the vacuolar processing enzyme. These findings suggest that proper sorting and transport of CPY is saturable. This may reflect limiting amounts of a CPY-sorting receptor, or of CPY-modifying machinery that is essential for recognition by such a receptor.

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