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J Mol Biol. 1999 Sep 10;292(1):11-7.

The Zn-peptidase superfamily: functional convergence after evolutionary divergence.

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National Center for Biotechnology Information National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MA 20894, USA.


Zn-dependent carboxypeptidases (ZnCP) cleave off the C-terminal amino acid residues from proteins and peptides. Here we describe a superfamily that unites classical ZnCP with other enzymes, most of which are known (or likely) to participate in metal-dependent peptide bond cleavage, but not necessarily in polypeptide substrates. It is demonstrated that aspartoacylase (ASP gene) and succinylglutamate desuccinylase (ASTE gene) are members of the ZnCP family. The Zn-binding site along with the structural core of the protein is shown to be conserved between ZnCP and another large family of hydrolases that includes mostly aminopeptidases (ZnAP). Both families (ZnCP and ZnAP) include not only proteases but also enzymes that perform N-deacylation, and enzymes that catalyze N-desuccinylation of amino acids. This is a result of functional convergence that apparently occurred after the divergence of the two families.

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