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J Biol Chem. 2000 Jan 14;275(2):1502-10.

The type 4 prepilin peptidases comprise a novel family of aspartic acid proteases.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, USA.


Type 4 prepilins or prepilin-like-proteins are secreted by a wide range of bacterial species and are required for a variety of functions including type 4 pilus formation, toxin and other enzyme secretion, gene transfer, and biofilm formation. A distinctive feature of these proteins is the presence of a specialized leader peptide that is cleaved off by a cognate membrane-bound type 4 prepilin peptidase (TFPP) during the process of secretion. In this report we show that the TFPPs represent a novel family of bilobed aspartate proteases that is unlike any other protease. The active site pairs of aspartic acids of the two TFPPs in Vibrio cholerae are found at positions 125 and 189 of TcpJ and 147 and 212 of VcpD. Corresponding aspartate residues are completely conserved throughout this extensive peptidase family.

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