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n. (context enzyme English) Any of several proteinases that have a metal atom (often zinc) at their active centre.


A metalloproteinase, or metalloprotease, is any protease enzyme whose catalytic mechanism involves a metal. An example of this would be meltrin which plays a significant role in the fusion of muscle cells during embryo development, in a process known as myogenesis.

Most metalloproteases require zinc, but some use cobalt. The metal ion is coordinated to the protein via three ligands. The ligands co-ordinating the metal ion can vary with histidine, glutamate, aspartate, lysine, and arginine. The fourth coordination position is taken up by a labile water molecule.

Treatment with chelating agents such as EDTA leads to complete inactivation. EDTA is a metal chelator that removes zinc, which is essential for activity. They are also inhibited by the chelator orthophenanthroline.