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Biochemical Tools for Tracking Proteolysis

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posted on 2021-09-07, 20:31 authored by Longxiang Wang, Kimberly Main, Henry Wang, Olivier Julien, Antoine Dufour
All living organisms depend on tightly regulated cellular networks to control biological functions. Proteolysis is an important irreversible post-translational modification that regulates most, if not all, cellular processes. Proteases are a large family of enzymes that perform hydrolysis of protein substrates, leading to protein activation or degradation. The 473 known and 90 putative human proteases are divided into 5 main mechanistic groups: metalloproteases, serine proteases, cysteine proteases, threonine proteases, and aspartic acid proteases. Proteases are fundamental to all biological systems, and when dysregulated they profoundly influence disease progression. Inhibiting proteases has led to effective therapies for viral infections, cardiovascular disorders, and blood coagulation just to name a few. Between 5 and 10% of all pharmaceutical targets are proteases, despite limited knowledge about their biological roles. More than 50% of all human proteases have no known substrates. We present here a comprehensive list of all current known human proteases. We also present current and novel biochemical tools to characterize protease functions in vitro, in vivo, and ex vivo. These tools make it achievable to define both beneficial and detrimental activities of proteases in health and disease.