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The nitrilase superfamily: classification, structure and function

Helen C Pace and Charles Brenner*

Author Affiliations

Structural Biology and Bioinformatics Program, Kimmel Cancer Center, 233 S Tenth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA

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Genome Biology 2001, 2:reviews0001-reviews0001.9  doi:10.1186/gb-2001-2-1-reviews0001

Published: 15 January 2001


The nitrilase superfamily consists of thiol enzymes involved in natural product biosynthesis and post-translational modification in plants, animals, fungi and certain prokaryotes. On the basis of sequence similarity and the presence of additional domains, the superfamily can be classified into 13 branches, nine of which have known or deduced specificity for specific nitrile- or amide-hydrolysis or amide-condensation reactions. Genetic and biochemical analysis of the family members and their associated domains assists in predicting the localization, specificity and cell biology of hundreds of uncharacterized protein sequences.