Acidic and basic hemorrhagic metalloproteases were purified from the venom of Deinagkistrodon acutus (from Fujian Province, China) using gel filtration and anion exchange on FPLC and reversed-phase HPLC. Their hemorrhagic activities and N-terminal sequences were characterized. Extensive screening of the venom gland cDNA after PCR amplification resulted in the identification and sequencing of a total of seven cDNA clones encoding the multidomain precursors of six acidic and one alkaline low molecular mass metalloproteases. Two of the precursors contain a processable disintegrin domain. Disintegrins of 5 kDa were also purified from the venom. The partial amino-acid sequences and molecular masses determined by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry of the purified proteins specifically match those deduced from two of the cDNA sequences. Moreover, phylogenetic analyses based on 30 complete sequences of low molecular mass venom metalloproteases revealed that they may be classified into three functional subtypes: acidic hemorrhagins, basic and moderate hemorrhagins, and nonhemorrhagic enzymes. Subtype-specific amino-acid substitutions in the C-terminal regions of the enzymes were highlighted to explore the structure-activity relationships of the enzymes.
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