PROSITE documentation PDOC00132
Asparaginase / glutaminase active sites signatures and domain profile


L-Asparaginases (EC hydrolyze L-asparagine to L-aspartate and ammonia. Enzymes with asparaginase activity play an important role in the metabolism of all living organisms [1,2]. Enzymes capable of converting L-asparagine to L-aspartate can be classified as bacterial-type or plant-type L-asparaginase. Bacterial-type L-asparaginase are further divided into subtypes I and II, defined by their intra-/extra-cellular localization, substrate affinity, and oligomeric form. Homologous bacterial-type L-asparaginase are found in all kingdoms of life. Furthermore, bacterial-type L-asparaginase are related to other enzymes, including:

  • Bacterial L-glutaminase-asparaginase (EC
  • Archaeal GatD subunit of Glu-tRNA amidotransferase (Glu-AdT).
  • Mammalian lysophospholipase (EC, which is believed to play a major role in the hydrolytic degradation of lysophosphatidylcholine.

The asparaginase/glutaminase domain consists of two α/β subdomains that are connected by an extended but structured linker region. The larger N-terminal subdomain is characterized by an eight-stranded antiparallel mixed β-sheet. The smaller C-terminal subdomain contains a parallel β-sheet (see <PDB:2JK0>) [3].

Two conserved threonine residues have been shown [4,5] to play a catalytic role. One of them is located in the N-terminal extremity while the second is located at the end of the first third of the sequence. We used both conserved regions as signature patterns.

The profile we developed covers the entire asparaginase/glutaminase domain.


Plant asparaginases and mammalian glutaminases do not belong to this family and are thus not detected by the above pattern.

Expert(s) to contact by email:

Gribskov M.

Last update:

October 2014 / Text revised; profile added.


Technical section

PROSITE methods (with tools and information) covered by this documentation:

ASN_GLN_ASE_3, PS51732; Asparaginase / glutaminase domain profile  (MATRIX)

ASN_GLN_ASE_1, PS00144; Asparaginase / glutaminase active site signature 1  (PATTERN)

ASN_GLN_ASE_2, PS00917; Asparaginase / glutaminase active site signature 2  (PATTERN)


1AuthorsBorek D. Jaskolski M.
TitleSequence analysis of enzymes with asparaginase activity.
SourceActa Biochim. Pol. 48:893-902(2001).
PubMed ID11996000

2AuthorsMichalska K. Jaskolski M.
TitleStructural aspects of L-asparaginases, their friends and relations.
SourceActa Biochim. Pol. 53:627-640(2006).
PubMed ID17143335

3AuthorsPapageorgiou A.C. Posypanova G.A. Andersson C.S. Sokolov N.N. Krasotkina J.
TitleStructural and functional insights into Erwinia carotovora L-asparaginase.
SourceFEBS J. 275:4306-4316(2008).
PubMed ID18647344

4AuthorsHarms E. Wehner A. Aung H.P. Rohm K.H.
TitleA catalytic role for threonine-12 of E. coli asparaginase II as established by site-directed mutagenesis.
SourceFEBS Lett. 285:55-58(1991).
PubMed ID1906013

5AuthorsMiller M.M. Rao J.K.M. Wlodawer A. Gribskov M.R.
TitleA left-handed crossover involved in amidohydrolase catalysis. Crystal structure of Erwinia chrysanthemi L-asparaginase with bound L-aspartate.
SourceFEBS Lett. 328:275-279(1993).
PubMed ID8348975

PROSITE is copyrighted by the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License, see prosite_license.html.


View entry in original PROSITE document format
View entry in raw text format (no links)