An endothelin-converting enzyme homologue in the locust, Locusta migratoria: functional activity, molecular cloning and tissue distribution.
Macours N., Poels J., Hens K., Luciani N., De Loof A., Huybrechts R.
Endothelin-converting enzyme is the key enzyme in the process of endothelin production. Endothelin is a peptide that plays an important role in vasoconstriction and the development of neural crest-derived cells in vertebrates. Activity assays performed on membrane extracts from Locusta migratoria brain revealed the existence of a protease activity responsible for the formation of mature endothelin-1 from its precursor, big endothelin. Cloning experiments led to a cDNA sequence (Lom ECE) with an open reading frame of 727 amino acid residues displaying all the characteristic ECE features. A comparison of ECE activity levels among different tissues of the locust showed a high enzyme activity in the gonads and midgut. RT-PCR experiments showed a wide tissue distribution of Lom ECE mRNA, with transcription being most abundant in brain tissue.