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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Aug 10;101(32):11785-90. Epub 2004 Jul 27.

A proteomic approach for the discovery of protease substrates.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Oncology, Siteman Cancer Center and Proteomics Center, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Standardized, comprehensive platforms for the discovery of protease substrates have been extremely difficult to create. Screens for protease specificity are now frequently based on the cleavage patterns of peptide substrates, which contain small recognition motifs that are required for the cleavage of the scissile bond within an active site. However, these studies do not identify in vivo substrates, nor can they lead to the definition of the macromolecular features that account for the biological specificity of proteases. To use properly folded proteins in a proteomic screen for protease substrates, we used 2D difference gel electrophoresis and tandem MS to identify substrates of an apoptosis-inducing protease, granzyme B. We confirmed the cleavage of procaspase-3, one of the key substrates of this enzyme, and identified several substrates that were previously unknown, as well as the cleavage site for one of these substrates. We were also able to observe the kinetics of substrate cleavage and cleavage product accumulation by using the 2D difference gel electrophoresis methodology. "Protease proteomics" may therefore represent an important tool for the discovery of the native substrates of a variety of proteases.

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