Protease Enzymes, Definition, Types and Functions, Examples

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What are Protease Enzymes,  Definition, Classification, Examples, and Uses

Definition of proteases

  • A protease is a type of enzyme that breaks down proteins into smaller protein units, such as peptides or amino acids.

  • Protease is an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of peptide bonds present in proteins.

What are protease enzymes?

  • Protease is the enzyme that breaks down proteins into smaller polypeptides or single amino acids by the process of proteolysis.
  • Proteases are also called peptidases or proteinases or proteolytic enzymes.
  • Protease enzymes break the peptide bonds of proteins.
  • These enzymes belong to the group of hydrolases.
  • These enzymes are found in all life forms like bacteria, archaea, animals, plants, and some viruses.
  • Proteases are widely distributed, mainly in the digestive tract of humans and animals, and are abundant in plants and microorganisms.
  • There are many kinds of protease enzymes such as pepsin, trypsin, cathepsin, papain, subtilisin, etc.
  • Proteases can be produced by using microorganisms such as Aspergillus niger, Bacillus subtilis, etc.
  • Protease enzymes are generally involved in various metabolic processes such as photosynthesis, digestion, cell signaling, protein processing, regulation of protein function, apoptosis, and other metabolic processes.
  • The proteases currently used in the bakery industry are fungal, bacterial proteases, and plant proteases.

Classification of proteases:

  • Based on the catalytic domain Proteases are classified as serine proteases, cysteine proteases, threonine proteases, aspartic proteases, glutamic proteases, metalloproteinases, etc.
  • Based on pH they are divided into acid proteases, neutral proteases, and alkaline proteases.
  • Based on the site of action on protein substrates, they are broadly classified as endo-peptidases or exo-peptidases.

Examples of Protease Enzymes with Functions: 

Enzyme Name Function
PepsinThis enzyme is present in stomach and converts proteins to smaller peptides – proteases and peptones
TrypsinFound in pancreatic juice and breaks proteins and peptones and proteases to dipeptides
ChymotrypsinFound in pancreatic juice and breaks proteins and peptones and proteases to dipeptides
ThrombinInvolved in blood coagulation
InsulinasePresent in the kidney and liver. It degrades insulin
HyaluronidasePresent in the acrosome of sperms and helps in penetration of sperm into the ovum during fertilization
CollagenaseIt digests collagen
ElastasePresent in pancreatic juice and digests elastin
CarboxypeptidaseFound in pancreatic juice and breaks proteins and peptones and proteases to dipeptides

Protease Enzyme Functions
  • Protease is the most important industrial enzyme which can catalyze the hydrolysis of proteins and polypeptides.
  • Proteases are one of the most used microbial enzymes used in Food, agriculture, medical hygiene beverages, and food, they are everywhere.
  • Protease enzymes are important for many biological metabolic processes. They are required for the regulation of various metabolic and cellular processes.
  • The main function is the hydrolysis of proteins.
  • Involved in the process of digestion, activation of enzymes, and transport of proteins across membranes.
  • They are important in growth, cell division, and apoptosis. 
  • They catalyze the hydrolysis of peptide bonds and convert them to amino acids, which are then absorbed and utilized by cells.
  • Protease enzymes are required for the blood coagulation process.
  • Proteases are used in cheese production, meat tenderization, and vegetable protein modification.
  • They are useful in the digestion process, pepsin, chymotrypsin, carboxypeptidase, and aminopeptidase are all proteases in the human digestive tract.
  • Plant protease has been widely used in leather, fur, silk, medicine, food, brewing, and so on. 
  • It can be used clinically for medicinal purposes, such as treating dyspepsia with pepsin, treating bronchitis with acid protease, treating vasculitis with dreaded protease, and using trypsin and chymotrypsin to purify surgical purulent wounds and thoracic interstitium.

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