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J Biol Chem. 2002 Jul 26;277(30):27200-9. Epub 2002 May 9.

Polypyrimidine tract-binding proteins are cleaved by caspase-3 during apoptosis.

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  • 1National Research Laboratory, Department of Life Science, Division of Molecular and Life Sciences, Pohang University of Science and Technology, San31, Hyoja-Dong, Pohang, Kyungbuk 790-784, Korea.


The polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB), an RNA-binding protein, is required for efficient translation of some mRNAs containing internal ribosomal entry sites (IRESs). Here we provide evidence that the addition of apoptosis-inducing agents to cells results in the cleavage of PTB isoforms 1, 2, and 4 by caspase-3. This cleavage of PTB separated the N-terminal region, containing NLS-RRM1, from the C-terminal region, containing RRM2-3-4. Our data indicate that there are three noncanonical caspase-3 target sites in PTBs, namely Ile-Val-Pro-Asp(7)Ile, Leu-Tyr-Thr-Asp(139)Ser, and Ala-Ala-Val-Asp(172)Ala. The C-terminal PTB fragments localized to the cytoplasm, as opposed to the nucleus where most intact PTBs are found. Moreover, these C-terminal PTB fragments inhibited translation of polioviral mRNA, which contains an IRES element requiring PTB for its activation. This suggests that translation of some IRES-containing mRNAs is regulated by proteolytic cleavage of PTB during apoptosis.

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