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J Biol Chem. 2002 Apr 5;277(14):12275-9. Epub 2002 Jan 18.

SMAC negatively regulates the anti-apoptotic activity of melanoma inhibitor of apoptosis (ML-IAP).

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  • 1Department of Molecular Oncology, Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco, California 94080, USA.


Inhibitors of apoptosis (IAPs) physically interact with a variety of pro-apoptotic proteins and inhibit apoptosis induced by diverse stimuli. X-linked IAP (X-IAP) is a prototype IAP family member that inhibits several caspases, the effector proteases of apoptosis. The inhibitory activity of X-IAP is regulated by SMAC, a protein that is processed to its active form upon receipt of a death stimulus. Cleaved SMAC binds X-IAP and antagonizes its anti-apoptotic activity. Here we show that melanoma IAP (ML-IAP), a potent anti-cell death protein and caspase inhibitor, physically interacts with SMAC through its BIR (baculovirus IAP repeat) domain. In addition to binding full-length SMAC, ML-IAP BIR associates with SMAC peptides that are derived from the amino terminus of active, processed SMAC. This high affinity interaction is very specific and can be completely abolished by single amino acid mutations either in the amino terminus of active SMAC or in the BIR domain of ML-IAP. In cells expressing ML-IAP and X-IAP, SMAC coexpression or addition of SMAC peptides abrogates the ability of the IAPs to inhibit cell death. These results demonstrate the feasibility of using SMAC peptides as a way to sensitize IAP-expressing cells to pro-apoptotic stimuli such as chemotherapeutic agents.

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