Medium conditioned by Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells transfected with the simian pre-pro-TGF beta 1 cDNA contains high levels of latent TGF beta 1. The amino-terminal region of the TGF beta 1 precursor is secreted and can be detected in the conditioned medium by immunoblotting using peptide antibodies specific for amino-terminal peptides. Chemical cross-linking of CHO-conditioned medium using bis-(sulfosuccinimidyl)-suberate (BS3) followed by immunoblot analyses indicates that latent recombinant TGF beta 1 contains both the cleaved amino-terminal glycopeptide and mature TGF beta 1 polypeptide in a noncovalent association and that this association confers latency. The data presented here do not support the involvement of a unique TGF beta binding protein(s) in latent recombinant TGF beta 1. Plasmin treatment of CHO-conditioned medium resulted in the appearance of TGF beta competing activity. In addition, immunoblot analysis of plasmin-treated CHO-conditioned medium indicates that the amino-terminal glycopeptide is partially degraded and that mature TGF beta 1 is released. Thus, activation of latent TGF beta 1 may occur by proteolytic nicking within the amino-terminal glycopeptide thereby causing a disruption of tertiary structure and noncovalent bonds, which results in the release of active, mature TGF beta 1. Acid activation of latent TGF beta, in comparison, appears to be due to dissociation of the amino-terminal glycopeptide from the mature polypeptide.
The Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) transforming gene product has been identified and characterized as a phosphoprotein with a molecular weight of 60,000, denoted pp60src. Partially purified pp60src displays a closely associated phosphotransferase activity with the unusual specificity of phosphorylating tyrosine residues in a variety of proteins. That the enzymatic activity observed is actually encoded by the RSV-transforming gene is indicated by the comparison of the pp60src-protein kinase isolated from cells tranformed by a wild-type RSV or by a RSV temperature-sensitive transformation mutant; these experiments revealed that the latter enzyme had a half-life of 3 min at 41 degrees C, whereas that of the wild-type enzyme was 20 min. Evidence is now beginning to accumulate showing that viral pp60src expresses its protein kinase activity in transformed cells as well as in vitro because at least one cellular protein has been identified as a substrate for this activity of pp60src. Although the protein kinase activity associated with pp60src is itself cyclic AMP (cAMP) independent, the molecule contains at least one serine residue that is directly phosphorylated by the cellular cAMP-dependent protein kinase, thus suggesting that the viral transforming gene product may be regulated indirectly by the level of cAMP. The significance of this latter observation must be regarded from the point of view that the RSV src gene is apparently derived from a normal cellular gene that seemingly expresses in normal uninfected cells a phosphoprotein structurally and functionally closely related to pp60src. This celluar protein, found in all vertebrate species tested, also is a substrate for a cAMP-dependent protein kinase of normal cells, and, therefore, may be evolved to function in a regulatory circuit involving cAMP.