Proteases have an important role in homeostasis, and dysregulation of protease function can lead to pathogenesis. Therefore, proteases are promising drug targets in cancer, inflammation, and neurodegenerative disease research. Although there are well-established pharmaceuticals on the market, drug development for proteases is challenging. This is often caused by the limited selectivity of currently available lead compounds. Proteinaceous plant protease inhibitors are a diverse family of (poly)peptides that are important to maintain physiological homeostasis and to serve the innate defense machinery of the plant. In this review, we provide an overview of the diversity of plant peptide- and protein-based protease inhibitors (PIs), provide examples of such compounds that target human proteases, and discuss opportunities for these molecules in protease drug discovery and development.
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The Tomato Metallocarboxypeptidase Inhibitor I, which Interacts with a Heavy Metal-Associated Isoprenylated Protein, Is Implicated in Plant Response to Cadmium.Molecules. 2020 Feb 6;25(3):700. doi: 10.3390/molecules25030700. Molecules. 2020. PMID: 32041288 Free PMC article.