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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2003 Nov;60(11):2427-44.

Canonical protein inhibitors of serine proteases.

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Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Wroclaw, Tamka 2, 50-137 Wroclaw, Poland.


Serine proteases and their natural protein inhibitors are among the most intensively studied protein complexes. About 20 structurally diverse inhibitor families have been identified, comprising alpha-helical, beta sheet, and alpha/beta proteins, and different folds of small disulfide-rich proteins. Three different types of inhibitors can be distinguished based on their mechanism of action: canonical (standard mechanism) and non-canonical inhibitors, and serpins. The canonical inhibitors bind to the enzyme through an exposed convex binding loop, which is complementary to the active site of the enzyme. The mechanism of inhibition in this group is always very similar and resembles that of an ideal substrate. The non-canonical inhibitors interact through their N-terminal segment. There are also extensive secondary interactions outside the active site, contributing significantly to the strength, speed, and specificity of recognition. Serpins, similarly to the canonical inhibitors, interact with their target proteases in a substrate-like manner; however, cleavage of a single peptide bond in the binding loop leads to dramatic structural changes.

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