The possible role of pancreatic proteases in the turnover of intestinal brush border proteins

David H. Alpers, Francis J. Tedesco

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108 Scopus citations


1. 1. Intestinal brush border enzymes have heterogenous rates of turnover, the largest proteins having the fastest turnover. Since the membrane faces the intestinal lumen, the effects of pancreatic factors were examined in mediating this turnover. Surgical subtotal pancreatectomy was used as an experimental model to study the turnover of brush border proteins in the absence of most pancreatic secretions. 2. 2. Subtotal (95%) pancreatectomy of rats was found to cause elevations by about 50% of total activity and specific activities of certain brush border enzymes (maltase, sucrase, lactase), but not of others (alkaline phosphatase, trehalase). Rats were judged to be functionally deficient in pancreatic proteolytic enzymes (a) by demonstration of vitamin B-12 malabsorption, which was corrected by trypsin, and (b) by the finding of only about 20% of proteolytic activity appearing in the lumen after a test meal when compared to control. 3. 3. To measure protein turnover in vivo the method of double labelling was used, where [3H]- and [14C]valine were administered intraduodenally in sequence 10 h apart. With this technique, a high 3H 14C ratio is correlated with rapid turnover. Proteins with apparent molecular weights of about 200 000-270 000 were found to turn over more rapidly than smaller proteins. 3H 14C ranged from 4.7 to 6.2 in animals without pancreatic insufficiency. In the face of decreased pancreatic proteolysis, the 3H 14C ratio was 2.3-3.1, similar to that of proteins with a slow half life. 4. 4. Estimates of relative synthetic rates of large brush border proteins were lower than normal in pancreatectomized animals, but were constant over the period of the labelling experiment. The high enzyme levels in the face of lower synthetic rates confirms that, at the new steady rate, degradation rates must be slower for large brush border proteins in pancreatic insufficiency. 5. 5. In vitro, using purified brush borders, unfractionated pancreatic enzymes were found to remove sucrase, maltase and lactase, but not alkaline phosphatase and trehalase. The enzyme most potent in this respect was the pancreatic protease, elastase. Non-proteolytic enzymes (amylase, lipase, phospholipase A) were inactive in removing enzyme from the brush border. The addition of elastase to pancreatectomized animals in vivo restored the rapid turnover rate of large brush border proteins. 6. 6. A model is thus proposed for the normal catabolism of some large intestinal brush border proteins. It is suggested that the surface of intestinal absorptive cells is being constantly remodelled, and that certain surface enzymes are in part removed from the membrane by the action of pancreatic proteases. A possible special role for elastase is suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-40
Number of pages13
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 5 1975


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