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Name: protease

Synonyms:  Endopeptidase K; Prok; Protease K; Tritirachium album proteinase K

CAS Registry Number:  39450-01-6

EINECS:  254-457-8

Proteinase K (also protease K or endopeptidase K) EC is a broad-spectrum serine protease. The enzyme was discovered in 1974 in extracts of the fungus Engyodontium album (formerly Tritirachium album).[1] Proteinase K is able to digest native keratin (hair), hence, the name "Proteinase K". The predominant site of cleavage is the peptide bond adjacent to the carboxyl group of aliphatic and aromatic amino acids with blocked alpha amino groups. It is commonly used for its broad specificity.

Proteinase K is commonly used in molecular biology to digest protein and remove contamination from preparations of nucleic acid. Addition of proteinase K to nucleic acid preparations rapidly inactivates nucleases that might otherwise degrade the DNA or RNA during purification. It is highly-suited to this application since the enzyme is active in the presence of chemicals that denature proteins, such as SDS and urea, chelating agents such as EDTA, sulfhydryl reagents, as well as trypsin or chymotrypsin inhibitors. Proteinase K is also stable over a wide pH range (4-12), with a pH optimum of pH 7.5-12.

The enzyme´s activity towards native proteins is stimulated by denaturants such as SDS. In contrast, when measured using peptide substrates, denaturants inhibit the enzyme. The reason for this result is that the denaturing agents unfold the protein substrates and make them more accessible to the protease.