The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
FASEB Journal vol:17 issue:10 pages:1215-1227
The proprotein convertases (PCs) are a seven-member family of endoproteases that activate proproteins by cleavage at basic motifs. Expression patterns for individual PCs vary widely, and all cells express several members. The list of substrates activated by PCs has grown to include neuropeptides, peptide hormones, growth and differentiation factors, receptors, enzymes, adhesion molecules, blood coagulation factors, plasma proteins, viral coat proteins, and bacterial toxins. It has become clear that the PC family plays a crucial role in a variety of physiological processes and is involved in the pathology of diseases such as cancer, viral infection, and Alzheimer's disease. Recent studies using PC inhibitors have demonstrated their potential as therapeutic targets. Despite the avalanche of in vitro data, the physiological role of individual PCs has remained largely elusive. Recently, however, knockout mouse models have been developed for furin, PC1, PC2, PC4, PC6B, LPC, and PACE4, and human patients with PC1 deficiency have been identified. The phenotypes range from undetectable to early embryonic lethality. The major lesson learned from these studies is that specific PC - substrate pairs do exist, but that there is substantial redundancy for the majority of substrates. To some extent, redundancy may be cell type and even species dependent.