Development of Endopeptidase Activities in Maize (Zea mays L.) Endosperms.


An activity stain was used after native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and at least 17 different endopeptidase activities were detected in maize (Zea mays L.) endosperm extracts prepared during the first 6 d after imbibition. The enzymes detected were classified into four groups based on their time of appearance and on their mobility in polyacrylamide gels. The first group, which included two enzymes present in dry endosperms, disappeared soon after imbibition. The second group, comprising five activity bands, appeared during the first 2 to 3 d after imbibition and then disappeared. The third set of enzymes increased continuously throughout the experimental period. The fourth group appeared after d 3 and remained at a constant level after that time. The endopeptidase activities were characterized by the effect of specific inhibitors on their activities. The two enzymes of the first group are metalloendopeptidases based on their sensitivity to ethylenediaminetetracetate (EDTA). Enzymes of the second, third, and fourth groups are sulfhydryl-endopeptidases as judged by their sensitivity to antipain, chymostatin, leupeptin, and E-64 and by their requirement for 2-mercaptoethanol. Pepstatin, phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride, or EDTA had no effect on these enzymes. Many of the second, third, and fourth group enzymes cleaved [alpha]-zein-rich proteins as well as such easily obtained proteins as gelatin (used in our standard assay) and hemoglobin. The second group had a high affinity for [gamma]-zein, whereas none of the bands in the fourth group of enzymes cleaved this type of zein. The two metalloenzymes of the first group cleaved neither [alpha]- nor [gamma]-zeins.

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