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Protein Sci. 2011 Aug;20(8):1421-31. doi: 10.1002/pro.673.

A designed redox-controlled caspase.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA.

Abstract

Caspases are a powerful class of cysteine proteases. Introduction of activated caspases in healthy or cancerous cells results in induction of apoptotic cell death. In this study, we have designed and characterized a version of caspase-7 that can be inactivated under oxidizing extracellular conditions and then reactivated under reducing intracellular conditions. This version of caspase-7 is allosterically inactivated when two of the substrate-binding loops are locked together via an engineered disulfide. When this disulfide is reduced, the protein regains its full function. The inactive loop-locked version of caspase-7 can be readily observed by immunoblotting and mass spectrometry. The reduced and reactivated form of the enzyme observed crystallographically is the first caspase-7 structure in which the substrate-binding groove is properly ordered even in the absence of an active-site ligand. In the reactivated structure, the catalytic-dyad cysteine-histidine are positioned 3.5 Å apart in an orientation that is capable of supporting catalysis. This redox-controlled version of caspase-7 is particularly well suited for targeted cell death in concert with redox-triggered delivery vehicles.

Copyright © 2011 The Protein Society.

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