The mouse egg extracellular coat, or zona pellucida, consists of three glycoproteins, called mZP1-3. Each glycoprotein possesses a consensus sequence recognized by the furin family of proprotein convertases. Previously, it was reported that mZP2 and mZP3 are cleaved at their consensus furin cleavagesites located near the C-terminus of the polypeptides [Litscher, E. S., Qi, H., and Wassarman, P. M. (1999) Biochemistry 38, 12280-12287]. Here, use of site-directed mutagenesis of the mZP3 gene and a specific inhibitor of furin-like enzymes revealed that secretion of nascent mZP3 from transfected cells is dependent on cleavage of mZP3 at its consensus furin cleavage-site. The dependence of secretion on cleavage represents a novel function for furin family enzymes.
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