A chymotrypsin-like esterase was purified from beef lung. This lysosomal enzyme, not previously characterized, seemed to be composed of two or more forms with molecular weights of about 52 000. It hydrolysed N-benzoyl-dl-phenylalanine β-naphthol ester at acid and neutral pH; it polymerized l-phenyl-alanine methyl ester(Phe-OMe) at neutral pH; and it transferred the Phe-residue from Phe-OMe to hydroxylamine at neutral pH. Phenylmethanesulfonyl fluoride, an inhibitor of hydrolytic enzymes with serine in their catalytic site, inhibited this enzyme, but pepstatin, the cathepsin D (EC 184.108.40.206) inhibitor, did not. Sulfhydryl reagents were not required for activity. Macrophages, especially pulmonary alveolar macrophages, were a rich source of this esterase, so it is likely that the enzyme purified from lung came from its macrophages. The esterase hydrolysed and transferred monoamino acid esters, especially those of the aromatic type. Cathepsin C, the dipeptidyl peptide hydrolase (EC 220.127.116.11), acted only on dipeptide esters and amides. Pancreatic chymotrypsin acted on both monoamino acid and dipeptide esters. The chymotrypsin-like esterase did not hydrolyse hemoglobin, casein, or plasma albumin. Thus its proteolytic activity, if present, must be limited to specific substrates, as yet unknown.
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