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FEBS Lett. 2007 Jun 26;581(16):2914-8. Epub 2007 May 25.

Carboxy terminal extended phytocystatins are bifunctional inhibitors of papain and legumain cysteine proteinases.

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  • 1Laboratorio de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Departamento de Biotecnología, Centro de Biotecnología y Genómica de Plantas, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, ETS Ingenieros Agrónomos, Madrid, Spain. m.martinez@upm.es


Plant legumains are cysteine proteinases putatively involved in processing endogenous proteins. Phytocystatins (PhyCys) have been described as plant inhibitors of papain-like cysteine proteinases. Some PhyCys contain a carboxy terminal extension with an amino acid motif (SNSL) similar to that involved in the inhibition of legumain-like proteins by human cystatins. The role of these carboxy terminal extended PhyCys as inhibitors of legumain-like cysteine proteinases is here shown by in vitro inhibition of human legumain and legumain-like activities from barley extracts. Moreover, site-directed mutagenesis has demonstrated that the asparagine of the SNSL motif is essential in this inhibition. We prove for first time the existence of legumain inhibitors in plants.

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