Norovirus peptidase C37 (IPR001665)

Short name: Norovirus_pept_C37

Overlapping homologous superfamilies


Domain relationships



Noroviruses (NVs, formerly "Norwalk-like viruses"), which belong to the Caliciviridae, are the major causative agents of nonbacterial acute gastroenteritis in humans. The NV genome, which consists of positive-sense, single-stranded RNA, contains three open reading frames (ORFs). The first ORF produces a polyprotein that is processed by the viral 3C-like protease into six nonstructural proteins. The six NV ORF1 nonstructural proteins are homologous to picornaviral nonstructural proteins and are named accordingly: N-terminal protein, 2C-like nucleoside triphosphatase, 3A-like protein, 3B VPg (genome-linked viral protein), 3C-like protease, and a 3D RNA- dependent RNA polymerase. NV 3C-like proteases are the key enzymes for ORF1 polyprotein processing and also cleave the poly(A)-binding protein, causing cellular translation inhibition. NV 3C-like proteases belong to the chymotrypsin-like protease family, in that they appear to have chymotrypsin-like folds. Whether the 3C-like protease domain has a catalytic dyad of composed of histidine and cysteine or tryad of histidine, glutamate and cysteine remains controversial [PMID: 16227288, PMID: 16641296]. The NV 3C-like protease domain forms MEROPS peptidase family C37.

The NV 3C-like protease domain adopts a serine protease-like fold that consists of two beta-barrels separated by a cleft within which lie the active site catalytic residues. The N-terminal beta barrel has two alpha-helices and seven beta-strands. The beta-strands form a twisted antiparallel beta- sheet resembling an incomplete beta-barrel. The core of the incomplete beta- barrel contains hydrophobic residues. The active site histidine residue is found in the N-terminal beta-barrel, as well as the glutamate. The C-terminal six-stranded antiparallel beta-barrel contains the active site cysteine. The catalytic site formed is situated deep within a cleft between the N- and C- terminal beta-barrels [PMID: 16227288, PMID: 16641296].

A cysteine peptidase is a proteolytic enzyme that hydrolyses a peptide bond using the thiol group of a cysteine residue as a nucleophile. Hydrolysis involves usually a catalytic triad consisting of the thiol group of the cysteine, the imidazolium ring of a histidine, and a third residue, usually asparagine or aspartic acid, to orientate and activate the imidazolium ring. In only one family of cysteine peptidases, is the role of the general base assigned to a residue other than a histidine: in peptidases from family C89 (acid ceramidase) an arginine is the general base. Cysteine peptidases can be grouped into fourteen different clans, with members of each clan possessing a tertiary fold unique to the clan. Four clans of cysteine peptidases share structural similarities with serine and threonine peptidases and asparagine lyases. From sequence similarities, cysteine peptidases can be clustered into over 80 different families [PMID: 11517925]. Clans CF, CM, CN, CO, CP and PD contain only one family.

Cysteine peptidases are often active at acidic pH and are therefore confined to acidic environments, such as the animal lysosome or plant vacuole. Cysteine peptidases can be endopeptidases, aminopeptidases, carboxypeptidases, dipeptidyl-peptidases or omega-peptidases. They are inhibited by thiol chelators such as iodoacetate, iodoacetic acid, N-ethylmaleimide or p-chloromercuribenzoate.

Clan CA includes proteins with a papain-like fold. There is a catalytic triad which occurs in the order: Cys/His/Asn (or Asp). A fourth residue, usually Gln, is important for stabilising the acyl intermediate that forms during catalysis, and this precedes the active site Cys. The fold consists of two subdomains with the active site between them. One subdomain consists of a bundle of helices, with the catalytic Cys at the end of one of them, and the other subdomain is a beta-barrel with the active site His and Asn (or Asp). There are over thirty families in the clan, and tertiary structures have been solved for members of most of these. Peptidases in clan CA are usually sensitive to the small molecule inhibitor E64, which is ineffective against peptidases from other clans of cysteine peptidases [PMID: 7044372].

Clan CD includes proteins with a caspase-like fold. Proteins in the clan have an alpha/beta/alpha sandwich structure. There is a catalytic dyad which occurs in the order His/Cys. The active site His occurs in a His-Gly motif and the active site Cys occurs in an Ala-Cys motif; both motifs are preceded by a block of hydrophobic residues [PMID: 9891971]. Specificity is predominantly directed towards residues that occupy the S1 binding pocket, so that caspases cleave aspartyl bonds, legumains cleave asparaginyl bonds, and gingipains cleave lysyl or arginyl bonds.

Clan CE includes proteins with an adenain-like fold. The fold consists of two subdomains with the active site between them. One domain is a bundle of helices, and the other a beta barrell. The subdomains are in the opposite order to those found in peptidases from clan CA, and this is reflected in the order of active site residues: His/Asn/Gln/Cys. This has prompted speculation that proteins in clans CA and CE are related, and that members of one clan are derived from a circular permutation of the structure of the other.

Clan CL includes proteins with a sortase B-like fold. Peptidases in the clan hydrolyse and transfer bacterial cell wall peptides. The fold shows a closed beta barrel decorated with helices with the active site at one end of the barrel [PMID: 14725770]. The active site consists of a His/Cys catalytic dyad.

Cysteine peptidases with a chymotrypsin-like fold are included in clan PA, which also includes serine peptidases. Cysteine peptidases that are N-terminal nucleophile hydrolases are included in clan PB. Cysteine peptidases with a tertiary structure similar to that of the serine-type aspartyl dipeptidase are included in clan PC. Cysteine peptidases with an intein-like fold are included in clan PD, which also includes asparagine lyases.

GO terms

Biological Process

GO:0006508 proteolysis

Molecular Function

GO:0004197 cysteine-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