Pure human pepsins 1 and 3 are inactivated by incubation at pH 7.1-7.3 for 30 minutes, losing 90% or more of activity. Pepsin 5 is alkali-stable, retaining 100% of activity. Mixtures of pure pepsins 1 and/or 3 with pepsin 5 were found to have greater alkali-stable activity than predicted. Two published methods for determining the alkali-stable fraction of the peptic activity of gastric juice gave, respectively, in our hands values of 45.4-80.0% and 27.5-43.9% of the total activity. These values seemed too high to be attributable only to pepsin 5 in gastric juice, as agar gel electrophoresis shows pepsin 3 to have the principal activity. Electrophoretograms of alkaline incubated gastric juice revealed that large amounts of pepsin 3 retained activity as well as pepsin 5, and a proteolytic zone "4" appeared between them. Alkali inactivation thus does not allow the estimation of pepsin 5 individually in gastric juice. Pepstatin, at a final concentration of 100 to 170 pmol/ml, may be used to estimate pepsin 5 in gastric juice and gave values of 18.0 to 27.6% of the total peptic activity. Pepsin 5, in gastric juice and in mixtures of pepsins, appears to protect pepsin 3 from alkaline-inactivation, and to a lesser extent from pepstatin inhibition.
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