The isoelectric points of three proteases (I, II and III), separated from culture supernatants of strain PAKS-1 by isoelectric focusing, were 8.5, 6.6 and 4.5 respectively. Collagenase activity was not detected. More than 75% of the extracellular protease activity of this strain was due to protease II. This enzyme also possessed elastase activity. When purified by ammonium sulphate precipitation, isoelectric focusing and gel chromatography, protease II showed one band on disc electrophoresis and one band on conventional immunoelectrophoresis. The pH optimum, stability and effect of inhibitors and substrate concentration were examined. The molecular weight was 23000 ± 5000. Protease II was lethal for mice when injected intraperitoneally at a high dose (minimum lethal dose 0.1 mg). Dermonecrosis and subcutaneous haemorrhages were produced in new-born mice upon subcutaneous injection of 10 μg protease II. A sensitive test for cytotoxicity showed no evidence of cytoplasmic membrane damage to HeLa cells or human diploid embryonic lung fibroblasts by protease II. Morphological changes similar to those produced by trypsin were found.


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