The biology and therapeutic targeting of the proprotein convertases

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2012 May;11(5):367-83. doi: 10.1038/nrd3699.


The mammalian proprotein convertases constitute a family of nine secretory serine proteases that are related to bacterial subtilisin and yeast kexin. Seven of these (proprotein convertase 1 (PC1), PC2, furin, PC4, PC5, paired basic amino acid cleaving enzyme 4 (PACE4) and PC7) activate cellular and pathogenic precursor proteins by cleavage at single or paired basic residues, whereas subtilisin kexin isozyme 1 (SKI-1) and proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin 9 (PCSK9) regulate cholesterol and/or lipid homeostasis via cleavage at non-basic residues or through induced degradation of receptors. Proprotein convertases are now considered to be attractive targets for the development of powerful novel therapeutics. In this Review, we summarize the physiological functions and pathological implications of the proprotein convertases, and discuss proposed strategies to control some of their activities, including their therapeutic application and validation in selected disease states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Drug Design*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology
  • Proprotein Convertases / drug effects
  • Proprotein Convertases / metabolism*
  • Protein Precursors / metabolism


  • Protein Precursors
  • Cholesterol
  • Proprotein Convertases