Spumavirus aspartic protease A9 (IPR001641)

Short name: Spumavirus_A9

Overlapping homologous superfamilies


Domain relationships



Foamy viruses (FV) or spumavirus are single-stranded enveloped retroviruses that have been noted to infect monkeys, cats and humans. At present, the virus has not been proven to cause any particular disease. However, studies have shown Human foamy virus causes neurological disorders in infected mice [PMID: 9549727]. The virus genome encodes gag and pol genes for polyproteins that are processed by an aspartic endopeptidase that is a component of one of the polyproteins [PMID: 10438890, PMID: 9696869]. In the human virus, the aspartic protease is encoded by the gag gene [PMID: 2451755], and in monkeys by the pol gene [PMID: 1647358].

The FV aspartic peptidases belong to MEROPS peptidase family A9 (spumapepsin family, clan AA). The structure has been solved for the peptidase from simian foamy virus and shows a retropepsin-like fold [PMID: 18597783].

Aspartic peptidases, also known as aspartyl proteases (EC:3.4.23.-), are widely distributed proteolytic enzymes [PMID: 6795036, PMID: 2194475, PMID: 1851433] known to exist in vertebrates, fungi, plants, protozoa, bacteria, archaea, retroviruses and some plant viruses. All known aspartic peptidases are endopeptidases. A water molecule, activated by two aspartic acid residues, acts as the nucleophile in catalysis. Aspartic peptidases can be grouped into five clans, each of which shows a unique structural fold [PMID: 8439290].

  • Peptidases in clan AA are either bilobed (family A1 or the pepsin family) or are a homodimer (all other families in the clan, including retropepsin from HIV-1/AIDS) [PMID: 2682266]. Each lobe consists of a single domain with a closed beta-barrel and each lobe contributes one Asp to form the active site. Most peptidases in the clan are inhibited by the naturally occurring small-molecule inhibitor pepstatin [PMID: 4912600].
  • Clan AC contains the single family A8: the signal peptidase 2 family. Members of the family are found in all bacteria. Signal peptidase 2 processes the premurein precursor, removing the signal peptide. The peptidase has four transmembrane domains and the active site is on the periplasmic side of the cell membrane. Cleavage occurs on the amino side of a cysteine where the thiol group has been substituted by a diacylglyceryl group. Site-directed mutagenesis has identified two essential aspartic acid residues which occur in the motifs GNXXDRX and FNXAD (where X is a hydrophobic residue) [PMID: 10497172]. No tertiary structures have been solved for any member of the family, but because of the intramembrane location, the structure is assumed not to be pepsin-like.
  • Clan AD contains two families of transmembrane endopeptidases: A22 and A24. These are also known as "GXGD peptidases" because of a common GXGD motif which includes one of the pair of catalytic aspartic acid residues. Structures are known for members of both families and show a unique, common fold with up to nine transmembrane regions [PMID: 21765428]. The active site aspartic acids are located within a large cavity in the membrane into which water can gain access [PMID: 23254940].
  • Clan AE contains two families, A25 and A31. Tertiary structures have been solved for members of both families and show a common fold consisting of an alpha-beta-alpha sandwich, in which the beta sheet is five stranded [PMID: 10331925, PMID: 10864493].
  • Clan AF contains the single family A26. Members of the clan are membrane-proteins with a unique fold. Homologues are known only from bacteria. The structure of omptin (also known as OmpT) shows a cylindrical barrel containing ten beta strands inserted in the membrane with the active site residues on the outer surface [PMID: 11566868].
  • There are two families of aspartic peptidases for which neither structure nor active site residues are known and these are not assigned to clans. Family A5 includes thermopsin, an endopeptidase found only in thermophilic archaea. Family A36 contains sporulation factor SpoIIGA, which is known to process and activate sigma factor E, one of the transcription factors that controls sporulation in bacteria [PMID: 21751400].

GO terms

Biological Process

GO:0006508 proteolysis

Molecular Function

GO:0004190 aspartic-type endopeptidase activity

Cellular Component

No terms assigned in this category.

Contributing signatures

Signatures from InterPro member databases are used to construct an entry.
PROSITE profiles