Profiling Sequence Specificity of Proteolytic Activities Using Proteome-Derived Peptide Libraries

Methods Mol Biol. 2022;2447:159-174. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-2079-3_13.


Substrate sequence specificity is a fundamental characteristic of proteolytic enzymes. Hundreds of proteases are encoded in plant genomes, but the vast majority of them have not been characterized and their distinct specificity remains largely unknown. Here we present our current protocol for profiling sequence specificity of plant proteases using Proteomic Identification of Cleavage Sites (PICS). This simple, cost-effective protocol is suited for detailed, time-resolved specificity profiling of purified or enriched proteases. The isolated active protease or fraction with enriched protease activity together with a suitable control are incubated with split aliquots of proteome-derived peptide libraries, followed by identification of specifically cleaved peptides using quantitative mass spectrometry. Detailed specificity profiles are obtained by alignment of many individual cleavage sites. The chapter covers preparation of complementary peptide libraries from heterologous sources, the cleavage assay itself, as well as mass spectrometry data analysis.

Keywords: Protease specificity; Proteolysis; Proteome-derived peptide library; Proteomic identification of protease cleavage sites; Proteomics.

MeSH terms

  • Endopeptidases
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Peptide Library*
  • Proteolysis
  • Proteome* / analysis
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods


  • Peptide Library
  • Proteome
  • Endopeptidases
  • Peptide Hydrolases