Send to

Choose Destination
J Biol Chem. 2012 Sep 28;287(40):33781-95. Epub 2012 Aug 7.

Fibrils colocalize caspase-3 with procaspase-3 to foster maturation.

Author information

Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California, San Francisco, California 94158, USA.


Most proteases are expressed as inactive precursors, or zymogens, that become activated by limited proteolysis. We previously identified a small molecule, termed 1541, that dramatically promotes the maturation of the zymogen, procaspase-3, to its mature form, caspase-3. Surprisingly, compound 1541 self-assembles into nanofibrils, and localization of procaspase-3 to the fibrils promotes activation. Here, we interrogate the biochemical mechanism of procaspase-3 activation on 1541 fibrils in addition to proteogenic amyloid-β(1-40) fibrils. In contrast to previous reports, we find no evidence that procaspase-3 alone is capable of self-activation, consistent with its fate-determining role in executing apoptosis. In fact, mature caspase-3 is >10(7)-fold more active than procaspase-3, making this proenzyme a remarkably inactive zymogen. However, we also show that fibril-induced colocalization of trace amounts of caspase-3 or other initiator proteases with procaspase-3 dramatically stimulates maturation of the proenzyme in vitro. Thus, similar to known cellular signaling complexes, these synthetic or natural fibrils can serve as platforms to concentrate procaspase-3 for trans-activation by upstream proteases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center