Fibrillin-1, the main component of 10–12 nm microfibrils of the extracellular matrix, is synthesized as profibrillin and proteolytically processed to fibrillin. The putative cleavage site has been mapped to the carboxy-terminal domain of profibrillin-1, between amino acids arginine 2731 and serine 2732, by a spontaneous mutation in this recognition site that prevents profibrillin conversion. This site contains a basic amino acid recognition sequence (R-G-R-K-R-R) for proprotein convertases of the furin/PACE family. In this study, we use a mini-profibrillin protein to confirm the cleavage in the carboxy-terminal domain by both fibroblasts and recombinantly expressed furin/PACE, PACE4, PC1/3 and PC2. Site-directed mutagenesis of amino acids in the consensus recognition motif prevented conversion, thereby identifying the scissile bond and characterizing the basic amino acids required for cleavage. Using a PACE/furin inhibitor, we show that wild-type profibrillin is not incorporated into the extracellular matrix until it is converted to fibrillin. Therefore, profibrillin-1 is the first extracellular matrix protein to be shown to be a substrate for subtilisin-like proteases, and the conversion of profibrillin to fibrillin controls microfibrillogenesis through exclusion of uncleaved profibrillin.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists