The nitrilase superfamily: classification, structure and function

Genome Biol. 2001;2(1):REVIEWS0001. doi: 10.1186/gb-2001-2-1-reviews0001. Epub 2001 Jan 15.


The nitrilase superfamily consists of thiol enzymes involved in natural product biosynthesis and post-translational modification in plants, animals, fungi and certain prokaryotes. On the basis of sequence similarity and the presence of additional domains, the superfamily can be classified into 13 branches, nine of which have known or deduced specificity for specific nitrile- or amide-hydrolysis or amide-condensation reactions. Genetic and biochemical analysis of the family members and their associated domains assists in predicting the localization, specificity and cell biology of hundreds of uncharacterized protein sequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Aminohydrolases / classification
  • Aminohydrolases / genetics*
  • Aminohydrolases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Nitriles / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Nitriles
  • Aminohydrolases
  • nitrilase