Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Mol Aspects Med. 2008 Oct;29(5):309-28. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2008.08.002. Epub 2008 Aug 22.

Meprins, membrane-bound and secreted astacin metalloproteinases.

Author information

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Berne, Buehlstrasse 28, CH-3012 Berne, Switzerland.


The astacins are a subfamily of the metzincin superfamily of metalloproteinases. The first to be characterized was the crayfish enzyme astacin. To date more than 200 members of this family have been identified in species ranging from bacteria to humans. Astacins are involved in developmental morphogenesis, matrix assembly, tissue differentiation and digestion. Family members include the procollagen C-proteinase (BMP1, bone morphogenetic protein 1), tolloid and mammalian tolloid-like, HMP (Hydra vulgaris metalloproteinase), sea urchin BP10 (blastula protein) and SPAN (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus astacin), the 'hatching' subfamily comprising alveolin, ovastacin, LCE, HCE ('low' and 'high' choriolytic enzymes), nephrosin (from carp head kidney), UVS.2 from frog, and the meprins. In the human and mouse genomes, there are six astacin family genes (two meprins, three BMP1/tolloid-like, one ovastacin), but in Caenorhabditis elegans there are 40. Meprins are the only astacin proteinases that function on the membrane and extracellularly by virtue of the fact that they can be membrane-bound or secreted. They are unique in their domain structure and covalent subunit dimerization, oligomerization propensities, and expression patterns. They are normally highly regulated at the transcriptional and post-translational levels, localize to specific membranes or extracellular spaces, and can hydrolyse biologically active peptides, cytokines, extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and cell-surface proteins. The in vivo substrates of meprins are unknown, but the abundant expression of these proteinases in the epithelial cells of the intestine, kidney and skin provide clues to their functions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center