This paper reports the first structure of a member of the Kex2/furin family of eukaryotic pro-protein processing proteases, which cleave sites consisting of pairs or clusters of basic residues. Reported is the 2.4 Å resolution crystal structure of the two-domain protein ssKex2 in complex with an Ac-Ala- Lys-boroArg inhibitor (R = 20.9%, Rfree = 24.5%). The Kex2 proteolytic domain is similar in its global fold to the subtilisin-like superfamily of degradative proteases. Analysis of the complex provides a structural basis for the extreme selectivity of this enzyme family that has evolved from a nonspecific subtilisin-like ancestor. The P-domain of ssKex2 has a novel jelly roll like fold consisting of nine β strands and may potentially be involved, along with the buried Ca2+ ion, in creating the highly determined binding site for P1 arginine.
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