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Biol Chem. 2006 Dec;387(12):1535-44.

Leucine aminopeptidases: diversity in structure and function.

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  • 1Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, Center for Plant Cell Biology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0124, USA.


Leucine aminopeptidases (LAPs) are metallopeptidases that cleave N-terminal residues from proteins and peptides. While hydrolyzing Leu substrates, LAPs often have a broader specificity. LAPs are members of the M1 or M17 peptidase families, and therefore the LAP nomenclature is complex. LAPs are often viewed as cell maintenance enzymes with critical roles in turnover of peptides. In mammals, the M17 and M1 enzymes with LAP activity contribute to processing peptides for MHC I antigen presentation, processing of bioactive peptides (oxytocin, vasopressin, enkephalins), and vesicle trafficking to the plasma membrane. In microbes, the M17 LAPs have a role in proteolysis and have also acquired the ability to bind DNA. This property enables LAPs to serve as transcriptional repressors to control pyrimidine, alginate and cholera toxin biosynthesis, as well as mediate site-specific recombination events in plasmids and phages. In plants the roles of the M17 LAPs and the peptidases related to M1 LAPs are being elucidated. Roles in defense, membrane transport of auxin receptors, and meiosis have been implicated.

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