Metallocarboxypeptidases (MCPs) are commonly regarded as exopeptidases that actively participate in the digestion of proteins and peptides. In the recent years, however, novel MCPs comprising a wide range of physiological roles have been found in different mammalian extra-pancreatic tissues and fluids. Among them, CPU, also known as thrombinactivatable fibrinolysis inhibitor (TAFI), has been shown to cleave C-terminal Lys residues from partially degraded fibrin, acting as inhibitor of clot fibrinolysis and therefore constituting an important drug target for thrombolytic therapies. Other MCPs such as CPE, CPN, CPM, and CPD function as pro-hormone and neuropeptide processors and display several structural differences with the pancreatic-like enzymes. In addition, important advances have been made in the discovery and characterization of new endogenous and exogenous proteinaceous inhibitors; the structural determination of their complexes with several MCPs has revealed novel binding modes. Finally, the use of MCPs in antibody-directed enzyme pro-drug therapy (ADEPT) has proved to be an efficient approach for the delivery of lethal levels of chemotherapeutic drugs specifically at tumor tissues. Taken together, these recent developments may help to understand potential biomedical implications of MCPs. Future perspectives for the regulation of these enzymes through the use of more selective and potent inhibitors are also discussed in this review and combined with earlier observations in the field.
Keywords: Metallocarboxypeptidase, metallocarboxypeptidase inhibitor, inhibitor-enzyme complex, TAFI, pro-fibrinolytic drug, ADEPT and GDEPT, neuropeptide processing
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