Discovery of Kex2-Related Prohormone Convertases
The phenomenon of prohormone conversion was discovered by Donald F. Steiner in 1967. The identity of the responsible enzymes was not clear for decades. In 1984, David Julius, working in the laboratory of Jeremy Thorner, identified the product of the Kex2 gene as responsible for processing of the alpha factor mating pheromone. Robert Fuller, working with Thorner, identified the partial sequence of the Kex2-homologous Furin gene in 1989. In 1990 human Kex2-homologous genes were cloned by the Steiner group, Nabil Seidah and co-workers,Wim J.M. van de Ven and co-workers, Yukio Ikehara and co-workers, Randal Kaufman and co-workers, Gary Thomas and co-workers, and Kazuhisa Nakayama and co-workers.
Biochemical and Structural Characterization of Kex2-Related Prohormone Convertases
Kex2 was first purified and characterized by Charles Brenner and Robert Fuller in 1992. The Kex2 crystal structure was solved by a group led by Dagmar Ringe, Robert Fuller and Gregory Petsko. That of Furin was determined by a group led by Manual Than and Wolfram Bode. The key features of Kex2 and Furin are a subtilisin-related catalytic domain, a specificity pocket that requires the amino acid amino terminal to the scissile bond to be arginine for rapid acylation, and a P-domain carboxy-terminal to the subtilisin domain, which is required for biosynthesis.