Structural basis for multifunctional roles of mammalian aminopeptidase N

Lang Chen, Yi Lun Lin, Guiqing Peng, Fang Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Mammalian aminopeptidase N (APN) plays multifunctional roles in many physiological processes, including peptide metabolism, cell motility and adhesion, and coronavirus entry. Here we determined crystal structures of porcine APN at 1.85 Å resolution and its complexes with a peptide substrate and a variety of inhibitors. APN is a cell surface-anchored and seahorse-shaped zinc-aminopeptidase that forms head-to-head dimers. Captured in a catalytically active state, these structures of APN illustrate a detailed catalytic mechanism for its aminopeptidase activity. The active site and peptidebinding channel of APN reside in cavities with wide openings, allowing easy access to peptides. The cavities can potentially open up further to bind the exposed N terminus of proteins. The active site anchors the N-terminal neutral residue of peptides/proteins, and the peptide-binding channel binds the remainder of the peptides/ proteins in a sequence-independent fashion. APN also provides an exposed outer surface for coronavirus binding, without its physiological functions being affected. These structural features enable APN to function ubiquitously in peptide metabolism, interact with other proteins tomediate cell motility and adhesion, and serve as a coronavirus receptor. This study elucidates multifunctional roles of APN and can guide therapeutic efforts to treat APN-related diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17966-17971
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number44
StatePublished - Oct 30 2012

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