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Biol Chem Hoppe Seyler. 1987 May;368(5):493-9.

Prediction of the secondary structures of stefins and cystatins, the low-molecular mass protein inhibitors of cysteine proteinases.


A procedure for classifying proteins of known sequence into structurally similar groups was developed on the basis of the Argos parametric approach. It is shown that stefins and cystatins constitute two structurally well resolved, but homologous groups of proteins. Furthermore, it is very probable that segments of secondary structures within each family are conserved, although significant differences between stefins and cystatins are indicated at the level of secondary structure. Next, secondary structures of all sequenced stefins and cystatins were predicted and used in the construction of secondary structures of the "typical stefin" and the "typical cystatin". Results were interpreted in the light of evolution and inhibition mechanism: Alignment of the "typical stefin" versus the "typical cystatin" secondary structure segments suggests that the divergence of stefin and cystatin families did not occur by a gene fusion event, but only by a mechanism of substitution, insertion and/or deletion. The central region of low-molecular mass cystatins, which is assumed to interact with cysteine proteinases, is predicted to be in a beta-sheet conformation. This resembles the beta-sheet in the active site of "standard mechanism" serine proteinases inhibitors.

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