Propeptides as Modulators of Functional Activity of Proteases

Biomol Concepts. 2010 Oct 1;1(3-4):305-22. doi: 10.1515/bmc.2010.025.


Most proteases are synthesized in the cell as precursor-containing propeptides. These structural elements can determine the folding of the cognate protein, function as an inhibitor/activator peptide, mediate enzyme sorting, and mediate the protease interaction with other molecules and supramolecular structures. The data presented in this review demonstrate modulatory activity of propeptides irrespective of the specific mechanism of action. Changes in propeptide structure, sometimes minor, can crucially alter protein function in the living organism. Modulatory activity coupled with high variation allows us to consider propeptides as specific evolutionary modules that can transform biological properties of proteases without significant changes in the highly conserved catalytic domains. As the considered properties of propeptides are not unique to proteases, propeptide-mediated evolution seems to be a universal biological mechanism.