Modification of proteins by ubiquitin and SUMO (small ubiquitin-like modifiers) is a dynamic and reversible process. Similar to the ubiquitin pathway, where the action of deubiquitinating enzymes removes ubiquitin from ubiquitin-adducts, SUMO is also removed intact from its substrates by proteases belonging to the sentrin-specific proteases (SENPs) family. In addition to their isopeptidase activity, SENPs also execute another essential function as endopeptidases by removing the short C-terminal extension from immature SUMOs. The defining characteristics of SENPs are their predicted conserved molecular scaffold-defined as members of peptidase Clan CE, conserved catalytic mechanism, and their reported activity on SUMO or Nedd8 conjugated proteins (or the respective precursors). We discuss recent progress on the human SENPs and their substrates.
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