FPLC anion-exchange and chromatofocusing chromatography were used to purify the major neutral proteinase from secretions of axenically cultured Entamoeba histolytica trophozoites. HM-1 strain trophozoites, which were more proteolytically active than the less virulent HK-9 strain, were used for purification of the enzyme. It is a thiol proteinase with a subunit Mr of approximately 56,000, a neutral pH optimum, and a pI of 6. The importance of this enzyme in extraintestinal amoebiasis is suggested by its ability to degrade a model of connective tissue extracellular matrix as well as purified fibronectin, laminin, and type I collagen. The enzyme caused a loss of adhesion of mammalian cells in culture, probably because of its ability to degrade anchoring proteins. Experiments with a peptide substrate and inhibitors indicated that the proteinase preferentially binds peptides with arginine at P-1. It is also a plasminogen activator, and could thus potentiate host proteinase systems.

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