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J Biol Chem. 2001 Dec 7;276(49):45762-71. Epub 2001 Oct 1.

Activity of recombinant dengue 2 virus NS3 protease in the presence of a truncated NS2B co-factor, small peptide substrates, and inhibitors.

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Centre for Drug Design and Development, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.


Recombinant forms of the dengue 2 virus NS3 protease linked to a 40-residue co-factor, corresponding to part of NS2B, have been expressed in Escherichia coli and shown to be active against para-nitroanilide substrates comprising the P6-P1 residues of four substrate cleavage sequences. The enzyme is inactive alone or after the addition of a putative 13-residue co-factor peptide but is active when fused to the 40-residue co-factor, by either a cleavable or a noncleavable glycine linker. The NS4B/NS5 cleavage site was processed most readily, with optimal processing conditions being pH 9, I = 10 mm, 1 mm CHAPS, 20% glycerol. A longer 10-residue peptide corresponding to the NS2B/NS3 cleavage site (P6-P4') was a poorer substrate than the hexapeptide (P6-P1) para-nitroanilide substrate under these conditions, suggesting that the prime side substrate residues did not contribute significantly to protease binding. We also report the first inhibitors of a co-factor-complexed, catalytically active flavivirus NS3 protease. Aprotinin was the only standard serine protease inhibitor to be active, whereas a number of peptide substrate analogues were found to be competitive inhibitors at micromolar concentrations.

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