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A carboxypeptidase activity was recently identified in highly purified human lung mast cells and dispersed mast cells from skin. Using affinity chromatography with potato-tuber carboxypeptidase inhibitor as ligand, mast cell carboxypeptidase was purified to homogeneity from whole skin extracts. The purified enzyme yielded a single staining band of approximately 34,500 D on SDS-PAGE. Carboxypeptidase enzyme content estimated by determination of specific activity, was 0.5, 5, and 16 micrograms/10(6) mast cells from neonatal foreskin, adult facial skin, and adult foreskin, respectively. Human mast cell carboxypeptidase resembled bovine carboxypeptidase A with respect to hydrolysis of synthetic dipeptides and angiotensin I, but was distinguished from carboxypeptidase A in its inability to hydrolyze des-Arg9 bradykinin. The amino acid composition of human mast cell carboxypeptidase was similar to the composition of rat mast cell carboxypeptidase. The amino-terminal amino acid sequence of mast cell carboxypeptidase demonstrated 65% positional identity with human pancreatic carboxypeptidase B, but only 19% with human carboxypeptidase A. Thus, human mast cell carboxypeptidase is a novel member of the protein family of zinc-containing carboxypeptidases, in that it is functionally similar but not identical to bovine carboxypeptidase A, but has structural similarity to bovine and human pancreatic carboxypeptidase B.