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J Biol Chem. 1996 Jun 7;271(23):13371-6.

Purification and characterization of an interleukin-1beta-converting enzyme family protease that activates cysteine protease P32 (CPP32).

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Department of Biochemistry and Microchemical Facility, Winship Cancer Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


CPP32, a member of the interleukin-1beta-converting enzyme (ICE) family of cysteine proteases, cleaves poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase and sterol regulatory element binding proteins during apoptosis. CPP32 normally exists in the cytosol as a 32-kDa inactive precursor and only becomes activated when cells are undergoing apoptosis. The activation is a proteolytic event that generates a p20/p11 heterodimer. We report here the identification, purification, and characterization of a hamster CPP32-activating protease (CAP) that cleaves and activates CPP32. The biochemical properties of CAP suggest that it is another member of the ICE family of proteases. Purified CAP consists of two prominent polypeptides of 19 and 13 kDa. Protein sequencing revealed that CAP is derived from the hamster homolog of Mch2alpha, a member of the ICE family recently identified based on the sequence conservation among the ICE family members. CAP activity is inhibited by CrmA, a cowpox virus protein that prevents host cell apoptosis. CAP itself is also activated through proteolytic cleavage. These data are consistent with the idea that the activation of the ICE family of proteases during apoptosis proceeds through a cascade of proteolytic events.

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