Families and clans of cysteine peptidases

ArticleinPerspectives in Drug Discovery and Design 6(1):1-11 · January 1996with7 Reads
DOI: 10.1007/BF02174042


    The known cysteine peptidases have been classified into 35 sequence families. We argue that these have arisen from at least five separate evolutionary origins, each of which is represented by a set of one or more modern-day families, termed a clan. Clan CA is the largest, containing the papain family, C1, and others with the Cys/His catalytic dyad. Clan CB (His/Cys dyad) contains enzymes from RNA viruses that are distantly related to chymotrypsin. The peptidases of clan CC are also from RNA viruses, but have papain-like Cys/His catalytic sites. Clans CD and CE contain only one family each, those of interleukin-1-converting enzyme and adenovirus L3 proteinase, respectively. A few families cannot yet be assigned to clans. In view of the number of separate origins of enzymes of this type, one should be cautious in generalising about the catalytic mechanisms and other properties of cysteine peptidases as a whole. In contrast, it may be safer to generalise for enzymes within a single family or clan.