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Open Access Research article

Modeling and structural analysis of PA clan serine proteases

Aparna Laskar1*, Euan J Rodger2, Aniruddha Chatterjee23 and Chhabinath Mandal1

Author Affiliations

1 Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (CSIR Unit, Government of India), Kolkata, West Bengal, 700032, India

2 Department of Pathology, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, 9054, New Zealand

3 National Research Centre for Growth and Development, Auckland, New Zealand

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:256  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-256

Published: 24 May 2012

Abstract

Background

Serine proteases account for over a third of all known proteolytic enzymes; they are involved in a variety of physiological processes and are classified into clans sharing structural homology. The PA clan of endopeptidases is the most abundant and over two thirds of this clan is comprised of the S1 family of serine proteases, which bear the archetypal trypsin fold and have a catalytic triad in the order Histidine, Aspartate, Serine. These proteases have been studied in depth and many three dimensional structures have been experimentally determined. However, these structures mostly consist of bacterial and animal proteases, with a small number of plant and fungal proteases and as yet no structures have been determined for protozoa or archaea. The core structure and active site geometry of these proteases is of interest for many applications. This study investigated the structural properties of different S1 family serine proteases from a diverse range of taxa using molecular modeling techniques.

Results

Our predicted models from protozoa, archaea, fungi and plants were combined with the experimentally determined structures of 16 S1 family members and used for analysis of the catalytic core. Amino acid sequences were submitted to SWISS-MODEL for homology-based structure prediction or the LOOPP server for threading-based structure prediction. Predicted models were refined using INSIGHT II and SCRWL and validated against experimental structures. Investigation of secondary structures and electrostatic surface potential was performed using MOLMOL. The structural geometry of the catalytic core shows clear deviations between taxa, but the relative positions of the catalytic triad residues were conserved. Some highly conserved residues potentially contributing to the stability of the structural core were identified. Evolutionary divergence was also exhibited by large variation in secondary structure features outside the core, differences in overall amino acid distribution, and unique surface electrostatic potential patterns between species.

Conclusions

Encompassing a wide range of taxa, our structural analysis provides an evolutionary perspective on S1 family serine proteases. Focusing on the common core containing the catalytic site of the enzyme, this analysis is beneficial for future molecular modeling strategies and structural analysis of serine protease models.

Keywords:
Serine protease; PA clan; Homology; Threading; Modeling