Peptidase A22A, presenilin (IPR001108)

Short name: Peptidase_A22A

Overlapping homologous superfamilies


Family relationships


This group of aspartic peptidases belong to MEROPS peptidase family A22 (presenilin family), subfamily A22A, the type example being presenilin 1 from Homo sapiens (Human).

Presenilins are polytopic transmembrane (TM) proteins, mutations in which are associated with the occurrence of early-onset familial Alzheimer's disease, a rare form of the disease that results from a single-gene mutation [PMID: 9791530, PMID: 9521418]. Alzheimer's disease is associated with the formation of extracellular deposits of amyloid, which contain aggregates of the amyloid-beta peptide. The beta-peptides are released from the Alzheimer's amyloid precursor protein (APP) by the action of two peptidase activities: "beta-secretase" cleaves at the N terminus of the peptide, and "gamma-secretase" cleaves at the C terminus. The gamma-secretase cleavage occurs in a transmembrane segment of APP. Presenilin, which exists in a complex with nicastrin, APH-1 and PEN-2, has been identified as gamma-secretase from its deficiency [PMID: 9450754] and mutation of its active site residues [PMID: 10206644], but proteolytic activity has only been directly demonstrated on a peptide derived from APP [PMID: 9450754].

Presenilin-1 is also known to process notch proteins [PMID: 11518718] and syndecan-3 [PMID: 14504279].

Presenilin has nine transmembrane regions with the active site aspartic acid residues located on TM6, within a Tyr-Asp motif, and TM7, within a Gly-Xaa-Gly-Asp motif [PMID: 10206644]. The protein autoprocesses to form an amino-terminal fragment (TMs 1-6) and a C-terminal fragment (TMs 7-9) [PMID: 8755489]. The tertiary structure of the human gamma-sectretase complex has been solved [PMID: 26280335]. Nicastrin is extracellular, whereas presenilin-1, APH-1 and PEN-2 are all transmembrane proteins. The transmembrane regions of all three proteins form a horseshoe shape.

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:0016485 protein processing

Molecular Function

GO:0004190 aspartic-type endopeptidase activity

Cellular Component

GO:0016021 integral component of membrane

Contributing signatures

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