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According to American Heritage Dictionary, pepsin derives from the Greek word pepsis, meaning digestion (peptein: to digest).
Additional recommended knowledge
In the stomach, chief cells release pepsinogen. This zymogen is activated by hydrochloric acid (HCl), which is released from parietal cells in the stomach lining. The hormone gastrin and the vagus nerve trigger the release of both pepsinogen and HCl from the stomach lining when food is ingested. HCl creates an acidic environment which allows pepsinogen to unfold and cleave itself in an autocatalytic fashion, thereby generating pepsin (the active form). Pepsin cleaves the 44 amino acids from pepsinogen to create more pepsin. Pepsin will digest up to 20% of ingested carbon bonds by cleaving preferentially after the N-terminal of aromatic amino acids such as phenylalanine and tyrosine. It will not cleave at bonds containing valine, alanine or glycine. Peptides may be further digested by other proteases (in the duodenum) and eventually absorbed by the body.
Pepsin is stored as pepsinogen so it will only be released when needed, and does not digest the body's own proteins in the stomach's lining.
Pepsin functions best in acidic environments because it is found in an acidic environment, particularly those in a pH of 1.5 to 2.
Pepsins should be stored at very cold temperatures (between −20°C and −80°C) to prevent autolysis (self-cleavage). Autolysis may also be prevented by storage of pepsins at pH 11 or by using pepsins modified by e.g. reductive methylation. When the pH is adjusted back to pH 6 activity returns.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pepsin". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.