Synthetic peptides as substrates and inhibitors of a retroviral protease

M. Kotler, R. A. Katz, W. Danho, J. Leis, A. M. Skalka

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64 Scopus citations


Processing of the gag and pol gene precursor proteins of retroviruses is essential for infectivity and is directed by a viral protease that is itself included in one of these precursors. We demonstrate here that small synthetic peptides can be used as both model substrates and inhibitors to investigate the specificity and molecular parameters of the reaction. The results indicate that a peptide than extends five amino acids but not three amino acids in both directions from a known cleavage site is accurately hydrolyzed by the protease of avian sarcome-leukosis virus. Substitutions of the amino acids to either side of the peptide bond to be cleaved affect the ability of the peptide (as well as a larger precursor protein) to serve as a substrate. The specificity is more stringent for the amino acid that will become the carboxyl end after cleavage. Some substitutions produced peptides that were not cleaved but could act as inhibitors of cleavage of a susceptible peptide. Thus, small model substrates may be used to explore both the binding and catalytic properties of these important proteases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4185-4189
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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