Signal peptide peptidase (SPP) and the four homologous SPP-like proteases SPPL2a, SPPL2b, SPPL2c and SPPL3 are GxGD-type intramembrane-cleaving proteases (I-CLIPs). In addition to divergent subcellular localisations, distinct differences in the mechanistic properties and substrate requirements of individual family members have been unravelled. SPP/SPPL proteases employ a catalytic mechanism related to that of the γ-secretase complex. Nevertheless, differential targeting of SPP/SPPL proteases and γ-secretase by inhibitors has been demonstrated. Furthermore, also within the SPP/SPPL family significant differences in the sensitivity to currently available inhibitory compounds have been reported. Though far from complete, our knowledge on pathophysiological functions of SPP/SPPL proteases, in particular based on studies in mice, has been significantly increased over the last years. Based on this, inhibition of distinct SPP/SPPL proteases has been proposed as a novel therapeutic concept e.g. for the treatment of autoimmunity and viral or protozoal infections, as we will discuss in this review. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Proteolysis as a Regulatory Event in Pathophysiology edited by Stefan Rose-John.
Keywords: Autoimmunity; ERAD; Intramembrane proteolysis; SPPL proteases; Signal peptide peptidase; γ-Secretase.
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