Proteolytic processing of egg-laying hormone-related precursors in Aplysia. Identification of peptide regions critical for biological activity.

G. T. Nagle, S. D. Painter, J. E. Blankenship, A. Kurosky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The atrial gland of the marine mollusk Aplysia californica is an exocrine organ that expresses at least three genes belonging to the egg-laying hormone (ELH) family. In order to study the post-translational processing of the ELH-related gene products in the atrial gland and how it compares to the bag cells, peptides were isolated from the atrial gland and chemically characterized. The A- and B-related precursors were each cleaved in vivo to yield several major and minor peptides including peptides A and B and the ELH-related peptide complexes that caused egg laying. About 13% of the peptide complexes were further enzymically processed by the atrial gland to yield smaller fragments, which included A-AP.A-ELH-(15-36), A-AP.[Ala27]A-ELH-(15-36), and A-AP.[Gln23,Ala27]A-ELH-(16-36), where A-AP is an acidic peptide encoded by the A- and B-related genes and A-ELH is an ELH-related peptide encoded by the A gene. These processed peptide fragments were not active in an egg-laying bioassay, indicating that retention of the 14-residue NH2-terminal segment of the A-ELH-related sequence, or some portion thereof, was critical for the induction of egg laying. Other characterized peptides included two novel 13-residue NH2-terminal peptides, A-NTP and B-NTP, representing residues 22-34 of the A and B precursors, respectively. These two peptides occurred adjacent to the signal peptide region in each precursor, and their characterization established the site of signal peptide cleavage to be the Ser21-Gln22 peptide bond of each precursor. Intermediate peptide fragments (A-NTP-peptide A and B-NTP-peptide B) were also identified indicating that there was a specific ordering in the cleavage of peptide bonds during posttranslational processing. Finally, a new 55-residue atrial gland peptide was also isolated that was not a part of any ELH-related precursor characterized to date.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9223-9237
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number19
StatePublished - Jul 5 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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