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Protease inhibitors, such as trypsin inhibitor, serum alpha-1 antitrypsin, or liver aprotinin, are a class of proteins that competitively bind and block the catalytic activity of proteolytic enzymes with wide ranging biological functions. A significant number of protease inhibitors have also been shown to possess antimicrobial activity, presumed to contribute in defense against pathogenic microorganisms as plants with higher levels of protease inhibitors tend to exhibit increased resistance towards pathogens. Two proposed mechanisms for the antimicrobial activity are combating microbial proteases that play roles in disease development and disruption of microbial cell wall & membrane necessary for survival. Here we show for the first time a novel activity of soybean trypsin inhibitor and bovine aprotinin that they nick supercoiled, circular plasmid DNA. A number of experiments conducted to demonstrate the observed DNA nicking activity is inherent, rather than a co-purified, contaminating nuclease. The nicking of the plasmid results in markedly reduced efficiencies in transformation of E. coli and transfection of HEK293T cells. Thus, this work reveals yet a new mechanism for the antimicrobial activity by protease inhibitors.

Citation

M Rafiq Islam, Kelvin Ihenacho, Jae Whan Park, I Sakif Islam. Plasmid DNA nicking- a Novel Activity of Soybean Trypsin Inhibitor and Bovine Aprotinin. Scientific reports. 2019 Aug 12;9(1):11596

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PMID: 31406183

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