Excretory/secretory (E/S) material of Trichuris muris was found to contain 2 major peptidases, Mr 85 and 105 kDa, which degrade gelatin optimally at pH 6·0 in sodium dodecyl sulphate–polyacrylamide gels. The peptidases were inactivated diisopropylfluorophosphate, leupeptin and soybean trypsin inhibitor, but were unaffected by inhibitors of aspartic-, cysteine- and metallo-peptidases, indicating that they are serine peptidases. Both enzymes were detectable within 5 h after incubation of worms in culture medium and showed a time-dependent increase in levels. Neither peptidase was detected in worm extracts, suggesting that they are activated during or following secretion from worms. Live worms degraded radio-isotope labelled extracellular matrix protein substratum derived from mammalian cells. Aminopeptidase activities capable of catalysing hydrolysis of amino acyl aminomethylcoumarin (MCA) substrates and a Z-Phe-Arg-MCA-hydrolysing cysteine peptidase activity, were detected in extracts of adult worms but not in E/S material.
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