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Virology. 2007 Feb 20;358(2):436-47. Epub 2006 Sep 28.

Identification and functional characterization of AMVp33, a novel homolog of the baculovirus caspase inhibitor p35 found in Amsacta moorei entomopoxvirus.

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  • 1Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Program, Division of Biology, Kansas State University, 232 Ackert Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.


Members of the baculovirus p35 gene family encode proteins that specifically inhibit caspases, cysteine proteases that are involved in apoptosis. To date, p35 homologs have only been found in baculoviruses. We have identified AMVp33, a gene from Amsacta moorei entomopoxvirus with low but significant homology to baculovirus p35 genes. Expression of AMVp33 blocked apoptosis in several different insect and human cell lines. Purified recombinant P33 protein was an efficient inhibitor of insect and human effector caspases, but not initiator caspases. P33 was cleaved by effector caspases, and the resulting cleavage fragments stably associated with the caspases. Mutation of the predicted caspase cleavage site in P33 eliminated cleavage, caspase inhibition and anti-apoptotic function. Thus, AMVp33 encodes a caspase inhibitor similar to baculovirus P35 with a preference for effector caspases. This is the first report of a p35 homolog from any viral or cellular genome outside of the baculovirus family.

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