Degradation of enkephalins: the search for an enkephalinase

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82 Scopus citations


The opioid peptides methionine-enkephalin and leucine-enkephalin appear to exert their biological effects through a receptor mediated mechanism. There appears to be three potential mechanisms for enkephalin degradation which could serve to control enkephalin levels in the vicinity of enkephalin receptors. These are, 1) cleavage of the tyrosyl-glycine bond by aminopeptidases, 2) cleavage of the glycyl-glycine bond by a dipeptidyl aminopeptidase, and 3) cleavage of the glycyl-phenylalanine bond by a dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase. In this review the biochemical properties of these potential enkephalinases are described, and the evidence for each acting as an enkephalinase is reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-43
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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