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Characteristics, Structure, and Biological Role of Stefins (type-1 cystatins) of Human, Mammal, and Parasite Origin

Vito Turk, Dušan Turk, Iztok Dolenc, Veronika Stoka


The majority of lysosomal cysteine cathepsins are ubiquitously expressed enzymes. However, some of them differ in their specific cell or tissue distribution and substrate specificity, suggesting their involvement in determining normal cellular processes, as well as pathologies. Their proteolytic activities are potentially harmful if uncontrolled. Therefore, living organisms have developed several regulatory mechanisms such as endogenous protein inhibitors of the cystatin family, including the group of small cytosolic proteins, the stefins. The main focus of this review is stefins of various origins and their properties, structure, and mechanism of interaction with their target enzymes. Furthermore, oligomerization and fibrillogenesis in stefins and/or cystatins provide insights into conformational diseases. The present status of the knowledge in this field and current trends might contribute to identifying novel therapeutic targets and approaches to treat various diseases.


mammalian stefins; parasite stefins; cystatins; cysteine cathepsins; mechanism of interaction; oligomerization

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Copyright (c) 2019 Vito Turk, Dušan Turk, Iztok Dolenc, Veronika Stoka

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