MEROPS is a freely available database of information about peptidases, some of the most common types of protein found in humans and other organisms. MEROPS provides an integrated information source for researchers investigating the role of these proteins in a diversity of important physical processes. Peptidases in MEROPS are classified in a hierarchical structure whereby, based on sequence similarities, each peptidase is defined as part of a family - and families that are thought to derive from a common ancestor are grouped together in clans.

[Genome Research Limited]


As well as storing information about peptidases, MEROPS contains accessible information about other proteins that can hinder the activity of specific peptidases. In total, the database contains information for approximately 3,000 peptidases and inhibitors. MEROPS is hosted at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and is run by Dr Alex Bateman's research group, which is also responsible for the Pfam and Rfam databases of proteins and RNAs.

MEROPS stores information for approaching 5,500 organisms: from human to mouse, virus to bacteria. The peptidase entries stored in the database are involved in diseases as diverse as Alzheimer's disease, pathogenic diseases, and tissue damage as well as fundamental biological processes such as cell division, embryonic development and digestion. This central biological role means that they are valuable potential targets for the development of new drugs.

Peptidases in the MEROPS database can be searched by their name, a unique identifier or the organism in which they are found. For each peptidase, there are details describing classification and nomenclature and links to supplementary pages showing sequence identifiers, literature references and a diagram of the peptidase structure where this is known.

Over recent years, MEROPS has begun to distinguish peptidases from one another by looking at how peptidases in the database break down other molecules, as well as which other protein inhibitors they will interact with. In addition, as the number of complete genomes grows at a rapid pace, MEROPS has transformed into a resource that can be used not only to find peptidase information but also to begin to look at how related species differ in terms of gains and losses of peptidases.

The library of information stored in MEROPS is freely and publicly available for the scientific community.

Selected Publications

  • MEROPS: the peptidase database.

    Rawlings ND, Barrett AJ and Bateman A

    Nucleic acids research 2010;38;Database issue;D227-33

  • MEROPS: the peptidase database.

    Rawlings ND, Morton FR, Kok CY, Kong J and Barrett AJ

    Nucleic acids research 2008;36;Database issue;D320-5

  • Bioinformatics of proteases in the MEROPS database.

    Barrett AJ

    Current opinion in drug discovery & development 2004;7;3;334-41

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