ADAM and ADAMTS Family Proteins and Snake Venom Metalloproteinases: A Structural Overview

Toxins (Basel). 2016 May 17;8(5):155. doi: 10.3390/toxins8050155.


A disintegrin and metalloproteinase (ADAM) family proteins constitute a major class of membrane-anchored multidomain proteinases that are responsible for the shedding of cell-surface protein ectodomains, including the latent forms of growth factors, cytokines, receptors and other molecules. Snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) are major components in most viper venoms. SVMPs are primarily responsible for hemorrhagic activity and may also interfere with the hemostatic system in envenomed animals. SVMPs are phylogenetically most closely related to ADAMs and, together with ADAMs and related ADAM with thrombospondin motifs (ADAMTS) family proteinases, constitute adamalysins/reprolysins or the M12B clan (MEROPS database) of metalloproteinases. Although the catalytic domain structure is topologically similar to that of other metalloproteinases such as matrix metalloproteinases, the M12B proteinases have a modular structure with multiple non-catalytic ancillary domains that are not found in other proteinases. Notably, crystallographic studies revealed that, in addition to the conserved metalloproteinase domain, M12B members share a hallmark cysteine-rich domain designated as the "ADAM_CR" domain. Despite their name, ADAMTSs lack disintegrin-like structures and instead comprise two ADAM_CR domains. This review highlights the current state of our knowledge on the three-dimensional structures of M12B proteinases, focusing on their unique domains that may collaboratively participate in directing these proteinases to specific substrates.

Keywords: ADAM; ADAMTS; MDC; adamalysin; crystal structure; disintegrin; metalloproteinase; reprolysin; shedding; snake venom.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ADAM Proteins / chemistry*
  • ADAM Proteins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Metalloendopeptidases / chemistry*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Snake Venoms / enzymology*
  • von Willebrand Factor / metabolism


  • Snake Venoms
  • von Willebrand Factor
  • ADAM Proteins
  • Metalloendopeptidases