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Biochimie. 2008 Feb;90(2):243-59. Epub 2007 Sep 29.

The MEROPS batch BLAST: a tool to detect peptidases and their non-peptidase homologues in a genome.

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  • 1The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridgeshire CB10 1SA, UK.


Many of the 181 families of peptidases contain homologues that are known to have functions other than peptide bond hydrolysis. Distinguishing an active peptidase from a homologue that is not a peptidase requires specialist knowledge of the important active site residues, because replacement or lack of one of these catalytic residues is an important clue that the homologue in question is unlikely to hydrolyse peptide bonds. Now that the rate at which proteins are characterized is outstripped by the rate that genome sequences are determined, many genes are being incorrectly annotated because only sequence similarity is taken into consideration. We present a tool called the MEROPS batch BLAST which not only performs a comparison against the MEROPS sequence collection, but also does a pair-wise alignment with the closest homologue detected and calculates the position of the active site residues. A non-peptidase homologue can be distinguished by the absence or unacceptable replacement of any of these residues. An analysis of peptidase homologues in the genome of the bacterium Erythrobacter litoralis is presented as an example.

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