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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1997 Sep 18;238(2):387-91.

Inhibition of caspase-3 by S-nitrosation and oxidation caused by nitric oxide.

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Department of Medicine IV-Experimental Division, University of Erlangen Nürnberg, Loschgestrasse 8, Erlangen, 91054, Germany.


Apoptotic signaling cascades converge in the activation of caspases (interleukin-1beta converting enzyme like proteases). Treatment of the human promyelocytic leukaemia cell line U937 with actinomycin D resulted in the activation of caspase-3 also known as CPP32. Protease activity was measured in cytosolic extracts by fluorometric analysis of the time-dependent cleavage of acetyl-Asp-Glu-Val-Asp-aminomethylcoumarin (DEVD-AMC), a caspase-3 substrate. Caspase activity was inhibited by thiol modifying agents such as N-ethylmaleimide or iodoacetamide and NO donors such as S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO), BF4NO, and spermine-NO. NO-mediated enzyme inhibition was fully reversible upon the addition of DTT (dithiothreitol). NO. itself was not primarily responsible for downregulation of caspase-3, as we found no correlation between rates of NO* release and the magnitude of enzyme inhibition. It is likely that S-nitrosation accounts for enzyme inhibition by various NO donors. SIN-1 and peroxynitrite were inhibitory as well. In this case, however, enzyme activity was not restored upon DTT addition, suggesting oxidation as an additional thiol modification mechanism. Our studies provide evidence that caspases are targeted by NO via S-nitrosation and oxidation of critical thiol groups.

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