M17 aminopeptidases diversify function by moderating their macromolecular assemblies and active site environment

Nyssa Drinkwater, Tess R. Malcolm, Sheena McGowan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The family of M17 aminopeptidases (alias ‘leucine aminopeptidases’, M17-LAPs) utilize a highly conserved hexameric structure and a binuclear metal center to selectively remove N-terminal amino acids from short peptides. However, M17-LAPs are responsible for a wide variety of functions that are seemingly unrelated to proteolysis. Herein, we aimed to investigate the myriad of functions attributed to M17. Further, we attempted to differentiate between the different molecular mechanisms that allow the conserved hexameric structure of an M17-LAP to mediate such diverse functions. We have provided an overview of research that identifies precise physiological roles of M17-LAPs, and the distinct mechanisms by which the enzymes moderate those roles. The review shows that the conserved hexameric structure of the M17-LAPs has an extraordinary capability to moderate different molecular mechanisms. We have broadly categorized these mechanisms as ‘aminopeptidase-based’, which include the characteristic proteolysis reactions, and ‘association-driven’, which involves moderation of the molecule's macromolecular assembly and higher order complexation events. The different molecular mechanisms are capable of eliciting very different cellular outcomes, and must be regarded as distinct when the physiological roles of this large and important family are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-51
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Cysteinylglycinase
  • Cytosol aminopeptidase
  • Leucine aminopeptidase
  • Leucyl aminopeptidase
  • M17
  • Metalloenzyme

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