Differential ontogeny of rat brain peptidases: prenatal expression of enkephalin convertase and postnatal development of angiotensin-converting enzyme.

S. M. Strittmatter, D. R. Lynch, Solomon H Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We quantitated the levels of two peptidases in the developing rat brain as a means to determine their function. Enkephalin convertase (EC, a carboxypeptidase B-like enzyme detected by [3H]guanidinoethylmercaptosuccinic acid (GEMSA) autoradiography, is present in high concentration throughout the brains of rat fetuses 3 days prior to birth. During the first 3 postnatal weeks, the density of [3H]GEMSA-labeled enkephalin convertase drops to adult levels. The expression of enkephalin convertase prior to that of most neuropeptides supports a role for this enzyme in propeptide processing. The regional distribution of [3H]GEMSA binding is similar in fetal and adult rats except that the thalamus exhibits the highest levels of [3H]GEMSA binding prenatally, and among the lowest levels in adult rats. Thus, peptide(s) formed in high concentration in the prenatal thalamus may be substrates for enkephalin convertase. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE, EC was visualized in the perinatal period by [3H]captopril autoradiography. Striatonigral ACE is undetectable at birth and increases to adult levels by two weeks of age. The expression of ACE after the initial presence of known peptides in the basal ganglia implies that the enzyme is not essential for peptide synthesis, suggesting instead a degradative role. In contrast to the striatonigral system, the choroid plexus contains high concentrations of ACE prior to birth, consistent with previous proposals of different substrates for ACE in the choroid plexus and the basal ganglia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-215
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1986


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this