The gelatinolytic activity of rat uterus collagenase. Academic Article uri icon


  • The collagenase produced by rat uterine cells in culture has been examined for its ability to degrade denatured collagen. Acting as a gelatinase, rat uterus collagenase was able to successfully degrade the denatured chains of collagen types I through V. In addition, the enzyme produced multiple cleavages in these chains and displayed values for Km of 4-5 microM, compared to values of 1-2 microM when native collagen was used as substrate. Furthermore, rat uterus collagenase degraded the alpha 2 chain of denatured type I collagen at a significantly faster rate than the alpha 1 chain, as previously observed for human skin fibroblast collagenase. In contrast to the action of human skin collagenase, however, the rat uterus enzyme was found to be a markedly better gelatinase than a collagenase, degrading the alpha chains of denatured type I guinea pig skin collagen at rates some 7-15-fold greater than native collagen. Human skin collagenase degrades the same denatured chains at rates ranging from 13-44% of its rate on native collagen. Rat uterus collagenase, then, is approximately 50 times better a gelatinase than is human skin collagenase. In addition to its ability to cleave denatured collagen chains at greater rates than native collagen, the rat uterus collagenase also attacked a wider spectrum of peptide bonds in gelatin than does human skin collagenase. In addition to cleaving the Gly-Leu and Gly-Ile bonds characteristic of its action on native collagen, rat uterus collagenase readily catalyzed the cleavage of Gly-Phe bonds in gelatin. The rat enzyme was also capable of cleaving Gly-Ala and Gly-Val bonds, although these bonds were somewhat less preferred by the enzyme. The cleavage of peptide bonds other than Gly-Leu and Gly-Ile appears to be a property of the collagenase itself and not a contaminating protease. Thus, it appears that the collagenase responsible for the degradation of collagen during the massive involution of the uterus might also act as a gelatinase to further degrade the initial products of collagenolysis to small peptides suitable for further metabolism.

published proceedings

  • J Biol Chem

author list (cited authors)

  • Welgus, H. G., Grant, G. A., Sacchettini, J. C., Roswit, W. T., & Jeffrey, J. J.

citation count

  • 35

complete list of authors

  • Welgus, HG||Grant, GA||Sacchettini, JC||Roswit, WT||Jeffrey, JJ

publication date

  • November 1985