Skip to main content
SLU:s publikationsdatabas (SLUpub)

Forskningsartikel2021Vetenskapligt granskadÖppen tillgång

Marked difference in efficiency of the digestive enzymes pepsin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, and pancreatic elastase to cleave tightly folded proteins

Fu, Zhirong; Akula, Srinivas; Thorpe, Michael; Hellman, Lars


In order for the intestinal mucosa to absorb dietary proteins they have to be digested into single amino acids or very short peptides of a length of not more than four amino acids. In order to study the efficiency of the digestive endopeptidases to digest folded proteins we have analyzed several target proteins under different conditions, native proteins, heat denatured and acid treated. The three pancreatic serine proteases, trypsin, chymotrypsin, and pancreatic elastase, were found to be remarkable inefficient in cleaving native folded proteins whereas pepsin, which acts at a very low pH (pH 1.2) was much more efficient, possibly due to the denaturing conditions and thereby better accessibility to internal cleavage sites at the low pH. Heat treatment improved the cleavage considerably by all three pancreatic enzymes, but acid treatment followed by return to neutral pH did not have any major effect. Cleavage at the low pH when the protein is in a denatured state, is apparently very efficient. This indicates that pepsin is the prime enzyme cleaving the properly folded native proteins and that the pancreatic enzymes primarily are involved in generating single amino acids or very short peptides for efficient uptake by the intestinal mucosa.


chymotrypsin; digestive enzymes; digestive system; pancreatic elastase; pepsin; trypsin

Publicerad i

Biological Chemistry
2021, Volym: 402, nummer: 7, sidor: 861-867

    UKÄ forskningsämne

    Biokemi och molekylärbiologi

    Publikationens identifierare


    Permanent länk till denna sida (URI)