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Mol Biotechnol. 2003 Jun;24(2):157-202.

Structural aspects of the metzincin clan of metalloendopeptidases.

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Institut de Biologia Molecular de Barcelona, CID-CSICC/ Jordi Girona, 18-26; 08034 Barcelona, Spain.


Metalloendopeptidases are present across all kingdoms of living organisms; they are ubiquitous and widely involved in metabolism regulation through their ability either to extensively degrade proteins or to selectively hydrolyze specific peptide bonds. They must be subjected to exquisite spatial and temporal control to prevent this vast potential from becoming destructive. These enzymes are mostly zinc-dependent and the majority of them, named zincins, possess a short consensus sequence, HEXXH, with the two histidines acting as ligands of the catalytic zinc and the glutamate as the general base. A subclass of the zincins is characterized by a C-terminally elongated motif, HEXXHXXGXXH/D, with an additional strictly conserved glycine and a third zinc-binding histidine or aspartate. Currently, representative three-dimensional structures of six different proteinase families bearing this motif show, despite low sequence similarity, comparable overall topology. This includes a substrate-binding crevice, which subdivides the enzyme moiety into an upper and a lower subdomain. A common five-stranded beta-sheet and two alpha-helices are always found in the upper subdomain. The second of these helices encompasses the first half of the elongated consensus sequence and is therefore termed the active-site helix. Other shared characteristics are an invariant methionine-containing Met-turn beneath the catalytic metal and a further C-terminal helix in the lower subdomain. All these structural features identify the metzincin clan of metalloendopeptidases. This clan is reviewed from a structural point of view, based on the reported structures of representative members of the astacins, adamalysins, serralysins, matrixins, snapalysins, and leishmanolysins, and of inhibited forms, either by specific endogenous protein inhibitors or by zymogenic pro-domains. Moreover, newly available genomic sequences have unveiled novel putative metzincin families and new hypothetical members of existing ones.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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