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J Biol Chem. 2003 May 9;278(19):16929-35. Epub 2003 Mar 11.

The cell adhesion molecule CEACAM1-L is a substrate of caspase-3-mediated cleavage in apoptotic mouse intestinal cells.

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McGill Cancer Centre, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1Y6, Canada.


The CEACAM1 cell adhesion molecule is a member of the carcinoembryonic antigen family. In the mouse, four distinct isoforms are generated by alternative splicing. These encode either two or four immunoglobulin domains linked through a transmembrane domain to a cytoplasmic domain that encompasses either a short 10-amino acid tail or a longer one of 73 amino acids. Inclusion of exon 7, well conserved in evolution, generates the long cytoplasmic domain. A potential caspase recognition site in mouse, rat, and human CEACAM1-L also becomes available within the peptide encoded by exon 7. We used CEACAM1-L-transfected mouse colon carcinoma CT51 cells treated with three different apoptotic agents to study its fate during cell death. We found that CEACAM1-L is cleaved resulting in rapid degradation of most of its 8-kDa cytoplasmic domain. Caspase-mediated cleavage was demonstrated using purified recombinant caspases. The long cytoplasmic domain was cleaved specifically by caspase-3 in vitro but not by caspase-7 or -8. Moreover cleavage of CEACAM1-L in apoptotic cells was blocked by addition of a selective caspase-3 inhibitor to the cultures. Using point and deletion mutants, the conserved DQRD motif in the membrane-proximal cytoplasmic domain was identified as a caspase cleavage site. We also show that once CEACAM1-L is caspase-cleaved it becomes a stronger adhesion molecule than both the shorter and the longer expressing isoforms.

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