Grown in dialysate broth at a pH between 5.5 and 6.5, some strains of group A streptococci elaborate the precursor of a proteolytic enzyme. Within this range of hydrogen concentration the precursor is also produced when the streptococci are suspended in a peptone dialysate containing glucose and incubated at 37°C. The precursor does not appear to be produced at a neutral or alkaline reaction.
Methods are described whereby the precursor and proteinase have been isolated in crystalline form. The precursor crystallizes from half-saturated ammonium sulfate at pH 8.0 and a temperature of 22°C. or higher; the proteinase crystallizes from 0.15 saturated ammonium sulfate at pH 8.0 but does so most readily at refrigerator temperature. The degree of purification achieved by these procedures is discussed.
The activity of purified preparations of the precursor and of proteinase has been tested against α-benzoyl-l-arginineamide and, with this as a substrate, the conversion of precursor to proteinase by autocatalysis or by trypsin has been confirmed.
Immunological experiments are described, the results of which provide evidence of the distinct antigenic specificity of the precursor and proteinase; the conversion of precursor to proteinase has been followed by means of serological tests.