Evolutionary origin of a Kunitz-type trypsin inhibitor domain inserted in the amyloid β precursor protein of Alzheimer's disease

Kazuho Ikeo*, Kei Takahashi, Takashi Gojobori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The Kunitz-type protease inhibitor is one of the serine protease inhibitors. It is found in blood, saliva, and all tissues in mammals. Recently, a Kunitz-type sequence was found in the protein sequence of the amyloid β precursor protein (βAPP). It is known that βAPP accumulates in the neuritic plaques and cerebrovascular deposits of patients with Alzheimer's disease. Collagen type VI in chicken also has an insertion of a Kunitz-type sequence. To elucidate the evolutionary origin of these insertion sequences, we constructed a phylogenetic tree by use of all the available sequences of Kunitz-type inhibitors. The tree shows that the ancestral gene of the Kunitz-type inhibitor appeared about 500 million years ago. Thereafter, this gene duplicated itself many times, and some of the duplicates were inserted into other protein-coding genes. During this process, the Kunitz-type sequence in the present βAPP gene diverged from its ancestral gene about 270 million years ago and was inserted into the gene soon after duplication. Although the function of the insertion sequences is unknown, our molecular evolutionary analysis shows that these insertion sequences in βAPP have an evolutionarily close relationship with the inter-α-trypsin inhibitor or trypstatin, which inhibits the activity of tryptase, a novel membrane-bound serine protease in human T4+ lymphocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-543
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Evolutionary origin
  • Insertion sequence
  • Kunitz type
  • Serine protease inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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