Viral envelope glycoprotein processing by proprotein convertases

Antiviral Res. 2013 Jul;99(1):49-60. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2013.04.013. Epub 2013 Apr 20.


The proprotein convertases (PCs) are a family of nine mammalian enzymes that play key roles in the maintenance of cell homeostasis by activating or inactivating proteins via limited proteolysis under temporal and spatial control. A wide range of pathogens, including major human pathogenic viruses can hijack cellular PCs for their own purposes. In particular, productive infection with many enveloped viruses critically depends on the processing of their fusion-active viral envelope glycoproteins by cellular PCs. Based on their crucial role in virus-host interaction, PCs can be important determinants for viral pathogenesis and represent promising targets of therapeutic antiviral intervention. In the present review we will cover basic aspects and recent developments of PC-mediated maturation of viral envelope glycoproteins of selected medically important viruses. The molecular mechanisms underlying the recognition of PCs by viral glycoproteins will be described, including recent findings demonstrating differential PC-recognition of viral and cellular substrates. We will further discuss a possible scenario how viruses during co-evolution with their hosts adapted their glycoproteins to modulate the activity of cellular PCs for their own benefit and discuss the consequences for virus-host interaction and pathogenesis. Particular attention will be given to past and current efforts to evaluate cellular PCs as targets for antiviral therapeutic intervention, with emphasis on emerging highly pathogenic viruses for which no efficacious drugs or vaccines are currently available.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Proprotein Convertases / metabolism*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Physiological Phenomena*


  • Glycoproteins
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • Proprotein Convertases