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Mol Genet Genomics. 2003 Jul;269(4):535-41. Epub 2003 May 29.

Functional comparison of homologous members of three groups of Kunitz-type enzyme inhibitors from potato tubers (Solanum tuberosum L.).

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Max-Planck-Institut für Züchtungsforschung, Carl-von-Linné-Weg 10, 50829 Köln, Germany.


For functional studies, nine cDNAs encoding Kunitz-type enzyme inhibitors from potato tubers were expressed as GST (glutathione S transferase)-tagged fusion proteins in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The inhibitors represented the three major homology groups A, B and C found in tubers. Members of the same homology group were at least 90% identical in sequence. The purified GST fusion proteins were tested for their ability to inhibit the proteases trypsin, alpha-chymotrypsin, subtilisin, papain and aspergillopepsin I, and for inhibition of the growth of fungi. Fusion proteins belonging to the same and different homology groups were found to exhibit distinct protease inhibition profiles. Removal of the GST tag by cleavage with enterokinase did not change the inhibition profile but increased the inhibitory activity. Group A and B inhibitors affected the proteases to different extents, whereas group C inhibitors showed only weak or no protease inhibition. One fusion protein completely inhibited aspergillopepsin I. One fusion protein each of groups A and B strongly inhibited mycelial growth of the fungus Fusarium moniliforme. The results suggest functional polymorphism among closely related members of the Kunitz-type inhibitor family.

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