Characterization of the Enzymatic Degradation of Enkephalin
Robison, Kathryn J.
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In the brain enkephalin is degraded by an endogenous enzyme. The nature of the enzyme is not known. If the enzyme is specific for enkephalin it would probably be sequestered to those areas of the brain in which enkephalin occurs, i.e. the corpus striatum, midbrain, pons and medulla. This research was directed toward characterizing the enzymatic degradation of enkephalin to determine whether an enzyme specific to enkephalin existed, or degradation was caused by non-specific peptidases. The reseachers' hypothesis that regional distribution of a specific enzyme would parallel the distribution of enkephalin, suggested a comparison of the enzymatic activity in the cerebellum and the rest of the brain. To further emphasize an enzyme activity gradient the cerebellum could be compared with the corpus striatum, which has a very high opiate receptor concentration.