• Enkephalin;
  • Proenkephalin A;
  • Chromaffin cells;
  • Adrenal medulla;
  • Peptide processing

Abstract: The synthesis of proenkephalin was assessed in primary cultures of bovine adrenal medullary chromaffin cells by incubation of the cells with [35S]methionine, digestion of proenkephalin-derived peptides with trypsin and carboxy-peptidase B, and quantitation of radioactivity incorporated into Met-enkephalin following reversed-phase HPLC. Nicotine, histamine, and vasoactive intestinal peptide each enhanced the rate of proenkephalin synthesis approximately 10-fold when examined between 16 and 32 h after the drug or hormone addition. Inclusion of nifedipine (1 μM) partially blocked the stimulatory effect of nicotine, but not that of vasoactive intestinal peptide or histamine, on proenkephalin synthesis. Theophylline, tetrabenazine, and angiotensin II also increased the rate of proenkephalin synthesis (three- to eightfold). These increases in the apparent rate of proenkephalin synthesis were not attributable to altered [35S]methionine specific radioactivity or rates of turnover and did not reflect similar increases in total protein synthesis. The half-life for turnover of Met-enkephalin sequences was 3–4 days in the cultured chromaffin cell. These studies directly show that proenkephalin synthesis is the primary regulatory step in control of chromaffin cell opioid peptide content.