Molecule of the Month: Beta-secretase
Beta-secretase trims proteins in the cell and plays an important role in Alzheimer's disease
Performing a Job Too Well
Getting to the Right Place
Exploring the Structure
beta-Secretase Inhibitors (PDB entries 1fkn and 1m4h)
Since beta-secretase is so important for the development of Alzheimer's disease, many laboratories have been working hard to find inhibitors to block it. The first success is shown at the top here from PDB entry 1fkn , and an improved compound that binds much more tightly is shown at the bottom from PDB entry 1m4h . Structures of many other drug candidates may be found in the PDB. Unfortunately, these compounds are not efficiently transported from the blood to the brain, so they have not been particularly useful as drugs to fight Alzheimer's disease. But the search continues in the fight against this debilitating disease.
Topics for Further Discussion
- Several proteases use a pair of aspartate amino acids to cleave protein chains. Can you find other examples in the PDB?
- Many structures of inhibitors bound to beta-secretase are available in the PDB. Can you find examples of peptide-like inhibitors that are very similar to the protein chains that are cleaved by beta-secretase, and other inhibitors that are significantly different than peptides? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
July 2009, David Goodselldoi:10.2210/rcsb_pdb/mom_2009_7