We have purified and characterized the major N-benzoyl-L-arginine ethyl ester hydrolase from the venom of Heloderma horridum horridum. The enzyme belongs to the serine proteinase family, and its activity vs. peptide amide substrates and human high-molecular-weight kininogen suggests a similarity to the family of kallikreins. This interpretation is corroborated by its reactivity with the natural inhibitors soybean trypsin inhibitor and Kunitz-type bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (aprotinin). Injection of the enzyme (2-16 micrograms/kg) into anesthetized rabbits leads to a rapid dose-dependent transient decrease of the arterial blood pressure. Like glandular kallikrein it specifically converts single-chain tissue type plasminogen activator into its double chain form. In contrast to other kallikrein-like enzymes from snake venoms it shows no thrombin-like or plasminogen activator activity. The enzyme is a single-chain glycoprotein (Mr 63,000). The N-terminal sequence revealed significant homology to pig pancreatic kallikrein and to kallikrein like enzymes from Crotalus atrox and Crotalus adamanteus venom. This enzyme, which we name Helodermatine, is the first purified from Sauria with kallikrein-like properties.

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