Proteinases play a fundamental metabolic role during the life cycle in the plant kingdom. By interacting with endogenous or exogenous inhibitors, the proteolytic activity is modulated to meet metabolic requirements. By probing proteolytic enzymes with their inhibitors, it is possible to identify novel functions unrelated to their proteolytic activity. A group of plant proteolytic enzymes stands as a line of defence against environmental changes as their activation is triggered following various types of stress. On the other hand, plants also contain proteinase inhibitors as countermeasures for their protection against insects and pests. Both proteinases and inhibitors emerge as useful tools to combat human diseases. This review focuses on the biochemical characterization of plant proteinases, their inhibitors, the pharmacological potential of proteinases and inhibitors, and new putative emerging functions of proteolytically inhibited proteinases.
Keywords: Antitumor activity, biological function, inhibitors, pharmacological activity, plant proteases, proteolytic activity, countermeasures, protein metabolism, aspartate, endoproteinases, microsporogenesis, symbiotic processes, protein degradation