DATABASE: Protein Scissors

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Science  17 Dec 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5704, pp. 2009
DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5704.2009d

Up to 5% of proteins are peptidases, enzymes that split proteins by fracturing the bonds between amino acids. Peptidases perform many vital tasks, such as triggering blood clotting, but they also help viruses set uphouse inside their hosts and may promote illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease. MEROPS, hosted by the Sanger Institute in Hinxton, U.K., holds data on peptidases from more than 2300 viruses, bacteria, animals, and other organisms. The site organizes the entries into evolutionary lineages. Search for a peptidase such as HIV's retropepsin, which hews newly made viral proteins into usable lengths, and you'll get basic data on its classification and function. You can call up the enzyme's structure, the proteins it attacks, the organisms that make it, and a raft of references. MEROPS also boasts a database of mirror-image molecules that block peptidases.

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