Procollagen N-proteinase and procollagen C-proteinase. Two unusual metalloproteinases that are essential for procollagen processing probably have important roles in development and cell signaling. Academic Article uri icon


  • As soon as procollagen precursors of fibrillar collagens were discovered in the early 1970s, it became apparent that connective tissues must contain proteolytic activities that cleave the N-propeptides and the C-propeptides from procollagens. Isolation and characterization of the enzymic activities, however, proved to be unexpectedly difficult. Both proteinases are large and are synthesized in several different forms with polypeptide chains ranging in size from 70 kDa to about 130 kDa. The N-proteinase has the unusual property of cleaving the N-propeptides from type I and type II procollagens if the proteins are in a native conformation, but not if the proteins are partially unfolded so that the N-telopeptides are no longer in a hair-pin configuration. The C-proteinase specifically cleaves native and denatured types I, II and III procollagens. It also specifically cleaves a precursor of lysyl oxidase and laminin 5. Both enzymes and their variants have structures that place them in a large and expanding super-family of over 200 zinc-binding metalloproteinases. The larger of two forms of the N-proteinase contains an RGD sequence for binding through integrins and properdin repeats similar to those found in thrombospondin. The shorter 70 kDa form of the C-proteinase is identical to the protein that was previously identified as bone morphogenic protein-1. Both the 70 kDa C-proteinase and two larger forms are homologous to proteins that are expressed early in development in a variety of organisms, including Drosophila, sea urchin, and fish. Therefore, the data suggest that both the N- and C-proteinases have important biological functions in addition to the roles in the processing of procollagens.

published proceedings

  • Matrix Biol

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Prockop, D. J., Sieron, A. L., & Li, S. W

citation count

  • 141

complete list of authors

  • Prockop, DJ||Sieron, AL||Li, SW

publication date

  • February 1998