AskDefine | Define pepsinogen

Dictionary Definition

pepsinogen n : precursor of pepsin; stored in the stomach walls and converted to pepsin by hydrochloric acid in the stomach

Extensive Definition

Pepsin is a digestive protease () released by the chief cells in the stomach that functions to degrade food proteins into peptides.
According to American Heritage Dictionary, pepsin derives from the Greek word pepsis, meaning digestion (peptein: to digest).
Pepsin was discovered by Theodor Schwann in 1836. It was the first animal enzyme to be discovered.


Pepsin is expressed as a pro-form zymogen, pepsinogen, whose primary structure has an additional 44 amino acids.
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. Hydrochloric acid 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 and is often found in an acidic environment, particularly those with a pH of 1.5 to 2.
Pepsin is said to have an optimum temperature between 37°C and 42°C in humans.

See also

Other important digestive proteases are the pancreatic enzymes trypsin and chymotrypsin. Pepsin denatures if the pH is more than 5.0. Pepsin is potently inhibited by the peptide inhibitor pepstatin.


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.


pepsinogen in Arabic: بيبسن
pepsinogen in Czech: Pepsin
pepsinogen in Welsh: Pepsin
pepsinogen in Danish: Pepsin
pepsinogen in German: Pepsin
pepsinogen in Spanish: Pepsina
pepsinogen in Esperanto: Pepsino
pepsinogen in French: Pepsine
pepsinogen in Korean: 펩신
pepsinogen in Italian: Pepsina
pepsinogen in Hebrew: פפסין
pepsinogen in Dutch: Pepsine
pepsinogen in Japanese: ペプシン
pepsinogen in Norwegian: Pepsin
pepsinogen in Occitan (post 1500): Pepsina
pepsinogen in Polish: Pepsyna
pepsinogen in Portuguese: Pepsina
pepsinogen in Russian: Пепсин
pepsinogen in Simple English: Pepsin
pepsinogen in Finnish: Pepsiini
pepsinogen in Swedish: Pepsin
pepsinogen in Thai: เพพซิน
pepsinogen in Ukrainian: Пепсин
pepsinogen in Urdu: پیپسن
pepsinogen in Chinese: 胃蛋白酶
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