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Chitinases: Biomarkers for Human Diseases

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Human chitinases (EC. are classified into family 18 of glycosyl hydrolase (GH18) superfamily based on their amino acid sequence similarities. Active chitinase hydrolyzes chitin, a β-1,4-linked N-acetyl-D-glucosamine oligosaccharide. Chitin is a major structural component of the insect exoskeletons and fungal cell walls, but is not found in vertebrates. In human, eight GH18 chitinases have been identified including active chitotriosidase and acidic mammalian chitinase. Most of the human chitinases lack chitinolytic activity due to mutation of an essential glutamic acid residue at the catalytic domain, and they are termed chitolectin. This review highlights some characteristics of human chitinases, compares structural differences among some human GH18 members, and discusses their cellular regulation and function. Finally, we summarize current views on the role of human chitinases in a variety of human diseases.

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Keywords: Chitotriosidase; YKL-39; YKL-40; acidic mammalian chitinase; oviductin

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-05-01

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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