ASTACINS are a subfamily of the METZINCIN superfamily of metalloproteinases. The first to be characterized was the crayfish enzyme astacin. To date more than a 1000 members of this family have been identified in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. Astacins are involved in developmental morphogenesis, matrix assembly, tissue differentiation and digestion. Family members include the procollagen C-proteinase (BMP1, bone morphogenetic protein 1), tolloid and mammalian tolloid-like, HMP (Hydra vulgaris metalloproteinase), sea urchin BP10 (blastula protein) and SPAN (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus astacin), the 'hatching' subfamily comprising alveolin, ovastacin, LCE, HCE ('low' and 'high' choriolytic enzymes), nephrosin (from carp head kidney), UVS.2 from frog, and the meprins.