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Protease Enzyme

Last updated date: 21st Apr 2024
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Protease enzymes catalyze the breakdown of proteins to shorter polypeptides or amino acids. They also undergo proteolysis by hydrolyzing the peptide bonds. It is essential for most living organisms like bacteria, algae, plants, animals, and in some viruses too. It helps in the digestion and absorption of protein and they are also involved in catabolism and digestion of proteins and also in cell signaling. Protease enzyme structure appears to be asymmetrical in the shape, rather than a particular amino acid shape.

Types of Protease Enzymes

There are various types of protease enzymes that take part in several biochemical processes. Depending on the site of peptide bond cleavage, proteolytic enzymes are divided into two groups known as exopeptidase and endopeptidase. 


It helps to catalyze the cleavage on the terminal peptide bond, Some of the examples are aminopeptidases, carboxypeptidases, etc.


They facilitate the breakdown of internal peptide bonds of proteins, Some of the examples are pepsin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, elastase, etc.

Oligopeptidase is an enzyme that specifically acts on the specific peptide bond. There are different types of protease enzymes that remain active at different pH range, some of the examples are acid proteases, alkaline or basic proteases, and neutral proteases.  

Source of Protease Enzyme

These enzymes are also called proteolytic and proteinases. Mainly in the human body, these enzymes are produced in the stomach and the pancreas. Protease enzymes are most commonly known for their role in the digestion of proteins and they also take part in other critical jobs as well. Some of them are cell division, clotting of blood, immune function, recycling of protein, and other vital processes. These enzymes can also be naturally found in certain foods and it is also available in the form of a supplement.  

Protease Enzyme Function

Some of the important protease functions are given below. These functions are very important to regulate various metabolic and cellular processes. 

  • Protease enzyme breaks the protein, which helps in digestion and catabolism of protein. It acts as catalysts to hydrolyze the peptide bonds and convert them to amino acids, later, it is absorbed by the other cell.

  • This enzyme is very important for the blood coagulation process.

  • It is involved in the process like cell division, growth, apoptosis and migration.

  • It helps to transport the protein and recycle it between the membranes.

  • It helps in the activation of precursor proteins and zymogens.

  •  It regulates the process of tumour growth, metastasis, inflammation and also provides immune support to the body. 

  • This enzyme can also be used to heal the wound and muscle soreness. 

Protease Examples

Some of the protease examples are given below along with their respective function - 

Protease Enzyme Name



It is found in pancreatic juice and breaks the proteins, peptones, and proteases into dipeptides.


This enzyme is found in pancreatic juice and breaks proteins and peptones and proteases into dipeptides like Trypsin.


The function of this enzyme is similar to Trypsin and Chymotrypsin.


This enzyme is present in pancreatic juice and helps to digest the elastin.

Nuclease (ribonuclease and deoxyribonuclease)

It is present in the pancreatic juice helps to split nucleic acid into nucleotides.


This enzyme helps to digest collagen.


It is found in intestinal secretion and breaks dipeptides into amino acids.


These are present in the stomach and help to convert proteins into smaller peptides known as proteases and peptones. 


They are secreted by the chief cells of the stomach and curdles the milk protein.


They are involved in the coagulation of the blood.


The function of this enzyme is similar to thrombin.


They are secreted by juxtaglomerular cells of the kidney and it converts the angiotensinogen to angiotensin.


It is present in the acrosome of sperms and helps sperm to penetrate the ovum during the process of fertilization.


They are present in the kidney and the liver and it degrades the insulin.

Chymases, tryptases

It is found in the mast cell and these enzymes are involved in allergic reaction and inflammation. 

Cathepsin, Neurolysin

They are present in the immune cells. 


After going through the brief information about protease enzymes like definition, types of protease enzymes, the source they are found in, functions, and different examples of the protease enzymes. We get to know the importance of the enzymes and what problems occur if the body lacks some of the enzymes like protease (the body will fail to break the protein into the amino acids). 

FAQs on Protease Enzyme

1. What is the main Role of Protease in the Body? 

Answer. The main role of the protease in the body is to break down the protein in the food into amino acids. Later on, the body can use it for energy. There are also different roles performed by these enzymes like blood clotting, cell division, recycling of proteins, and immune support. 

2. Is Protease a Digestive Enzyme?

Answer. Yes,  protease can be called a digestive enzyme.  As the protease function is to break down the food. Some of the other digestive enzymes are amylase and lipase. Amylase helps to breakdown the carbohydrates, lipase helps to break down the fat, and protease enzyme helps to break the protein into the amino acid. 

3. What are the Symptoms of Lacking Digestive Enzymes?

Answer. Some of the most common symptoms are diarrhoea, weight loss, steatorrhea, abdominal pain, and non-GI symptoms. Diarrhoea is caused due to undigested food sitting in the small intestine, and the body loses weight when it fails to absorb enough nutrients and fats.