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Critical Reviews™ in Neurobiology

ISSN Print: 0892-0915
ISSN Online: 2375-0014

Archives: Volume 10, 1996 to Volume 20, 2008

Critical Reviews™ in Neurobiology

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevNeurobiol.v11.i1.30
pages 35-57

Post-Translational Processing of Proopiomelanocortin in the Pituitary and in the Brain

Maria G. Castro
Molecular Medicine Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Manchester, Stopford Building, Room 1302, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT, United Kingdom
Ewan Morrison
Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, Department of Physiology, School of Molecular and Medical Biosciences, University of Wales College of Cardiff, Museum Avenue, PO Box 911, Cardiff CF1 3US, United Kingdom


Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) is a neuropeptide precursor molecule which is translocated to the secretory pathway within neuroendocrine cells. It is cleaved by the action of endopeptidases to yield mature peptides like adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), β-lipotrophin β-LPH), β-endorphin. In this review we present evidence on the cleavage specificities and structure of endoproteases which cleave neuropeptide precursors at pairs of basic amino acids and on the identity and mode of action of exopeptidases. This information is derived from cloning of their corresponding cDNAs and subsequent expression within neuroendocrine cells; and also from biochemical studies. We discuss the intracellular targeting and sorting mechanisms of POMC within neuroendocrine cells. We also examine the tissue-specific post-translational processing of POMC within the anterior and intermediate lobes of the pituitary gland and within the central nervous system.

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