, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 327-333,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 01 Jun 2006

The calcium activated nucleotidases: A diverse family of soluble and membrane associated nucleotide hydrolyzing enzymes


It has long been known that the salivary glands of hematophagous (blood-feeding) arthropods secrete soluble apyrases, which are potent nucleotide hydrolyzing enzymes capable of hydrolyzing extracellular ATP and ADP, the latter being a major agonist contributing to platelet aggregation. Only recently, however, has the identification of proteins homologous to these apyrases been reported in non-blood-feeding organisms such as rodents and humans. In this review, we present an overview of the diverse family of apyrases first described in the blood-feeding arthropods, including the identification and characterization of the soluble and membrane-bound vertebrate enzymes homologous to these arthropod apyrases. We also describe the enzymatic properties and nucleotide specificities of the expressed enzymes, and insights gained into the structure and function of this calcium activated nucleotidase (CAN) family from biophysical, mutagenesis and crystallography studies. The potential therapeutic value of these proteins is also discussed.