The Function of Protease

In simple words, a protease is the enzyme that is responsible for the digestion of proteins. Some other names for protease are peptidase and proteinase.

In simple words, a protease is the enzyme that is responsible for the digestion of proteins. There are three most important food groups (carbohydrate, fat and protein) with their own digestive enzymes. Hence, the body also needs all the three groups of digestive enzymes in its daily diet, including proteases. Some other names for protease are peptidase and proteinase. 


The process of protein digestion is called proteolysis. A protease executes the proteolysis by breaking the peptide bonds of proteins. These bonds are the one which are responsible for bonding the amino acids in the polypeptide chains. As a result, a protease breaks down the protein in several small chains. These smaller chains or separate amino acids of the proteins are readily absorbed by the intestinal wall.


One of the bases of classifying the proteases is the pH on which a particular protease shows its maximum activity. On this basis, there are three groups of proteases, viz. acid proteases, basic proteases and neutral proteases. In order to break the peptide bonds between the amino acid residues of a protein, a protease needs to first make the amino acid molecules nucleophilic. This is required for attacking the carboxyl groups of the peptides. The most current classification of proteases classifies them in six groups: aspartate proteases, threonine proteases, metalloproteases, serine proteases, cysteine proteases and glutamic acid proteases.


The digestion of proteins keeps the required level of acidity intact in the body. With the deficiency of proteases, an excess alkaline environment is created in the body. This alkaline environment is the cause of several irregularities in the body, like insomnia and anxiety. Protein is also required for carrying the calcium, which can be hindered due to protease deficiency. This can lead to osteoporosis, arthritis and all other diseases related to calcium deficiency. Insufficient protein absorption, due to protein deficiency, results in hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia causes the mood swings and irritability. Even the immunity is compromised in the individuals with protease deficiency.  


Proteases have been used for centuries in several different therapies. Their clinical significance has been proved by several studies, confirming their effectiveness in oncology, blood rheology control, inflammatory conditions and immune regulation. Proteases are one of the most important constituent of the enzyme therapy. Protease can break down almost all types of proteins excluding ones, which are an essential part of the living cells.


Protease is found naturally in the entire living world. There is no way one can imagine the very existence of life in the absence of proteins and the proteins can only be used at its full potential in the presence of proteases. Protease acts as an exotoxin in some bacteria, while the invertebrates use the proteases in various physiological reactions ranging from digestion of proteins to the highly regulated cascades.

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