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Apaf-1 facilitates the proteolytic activation of procaspase-9 and maintains the hyperactive state of the processed caspase-9. The underlying molecular mechanisms for these activities remain poorly characterized. Here we report that the isolated Apaf-1 caspase recruitment domain (CARD) forms a large hetero-oligomer with the active caspase-9. The catalytic activity of caspase-9 is significantly enhanced in this complex, demonstrating that Apaf-1 CARD allosterically up-regulates caspase-9 activity. Point mutations that inactivate the interactions between Apaf-1 CARD and the prodomain of caspase-9 also abolished the formation of this complex. Based on these observations, we discuss the implications of this complex on the observed Apaf-1 function.
Background: Proteolytic processing is involved in apoptosome-mediated caspase-9 activation, but its role is unknown.
Activation of an initiator caspase is essential to the execution of apoptosis. The molecular mechanisms by which initiator caspases are activated remain poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that the autocatalytic cleavage of Dronc, an important initiator caspase in Drosophila, results in a drastic enhancement of its catalytic activity in vitro. The autocleaved Dronc forms a homodimer, whereas the uncleaved Dronc zymogen exists exclusively as a monomer. Thus the autocatalytic cleavage in Dronc induces its stable dimerization, which presumably allows the two adjacent monomers to mutually stabilize their active sites, leading to activation. Crystal structure of a prodomain-deleted Dronc zymogen, determined at 2.5 Å resolution, reveals an unproductive conformation at the active site, which is consistent with the observation that the zymo...
Transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) regulates a broad range of biological processes, including cell growth, development, differentiation, and immunity. TGF-β signals through its cell surface receptor serine kinases that phosphorylate Smad2 or Smad3 proteins. Because Smad3 and its partner Smad4 bind to only 4-bp Smad binding elements (SBEs) in DNA, a central question is how specificity of TGF-β-induced transcription is achieved. We show that Smad3 selectively binds to two of the three SBEs in PE2.1, a TGF-β-inducible fragment of the plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 promoter, to mediate TGF-β-induced transcription; moreover, a precise 3-bp spacer between one SBE and the E-box, a binding site for transcription factor μE3 (TFE3), is essential for TGF-β-induced transcription. Whereas an isolated Smad3 MH1 domain binds to TFE3, TGF-β recep...
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbate), an essential nutrient for humans, plays an important role in protection against oxidative stress. The ascorbate-dependent oxidoreductase cytochrome b561 (Cyt b561) is a family of highly conserved, multipass transmembrane enzymes found only in eukaryotes. Cyt b561 plays a key role in ascorbate recycling and many other important physiological processes, such as iron absorption. The atomic structure and functional mechanism of Cyt b561 remain unknown. In this study, we report the high-resolution crystal structures of Cyt b561 in both ascorbate-free and ascorbate-bound states. Our structural and biochemical analyses identify a general functional mechanism for the Cyt b561 family.
Spermatozoa are generated and mature within a germline syncytium. Differentiation of haploid syncytial spermatids into single motile sperm requires the encapsulation of each spermatid by an independent plasma membrane and the elimination of most sperm cytoplasm, a process known as individualization. Apoptosis is mediated by caspase family proteases. Many apoptotic cell deaths in Drosophila utilize the REAPER/HID/GRIM family proapoptotic proteins. These proteins promote cell death, at least in part, by disrupting interactions between the caspase inhibitor DIAP1 and the apical caspase DRONC, which is continually activated in many viable cells through interactions with ARK, the Drosophila homolog of the mammalian death-activating adaptor APAF-1. This leads to unrestrained activity of DRONC and other DIAP1-inhibitable caspases activated by...
Okadaic acid (OA), dinophysistoxin-1 (DTX-1), and dinophysistoxin-2 (DTX-2) are algal toxins that can accumulate in shellfish and cause diarrhetic shellfish poisoning. Recent studies indicate that DTX-2 is about half as toxic and has about half the affinity for protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) as OA. NMR structural studies showed that DTX-1 possessed an equatorial 35-methyl group but that DTX-2 had an axial 35-methyl group. Molecular modeling studies indicated that an axial 35-methyl could exhibit unfavorable interactions in the PP2A binding site, and this has been proposed as the reason for the reduced toxicity of DTX-2. Statistical analyses of published data indicate that the affinity of PP2A for DTX-1 is 1.6-fold higher, and for DTX-2 is 2-fold lower, than for OA. We obtained X-ray crystal structures of DTX-1 and DTX-2 bound to PP2A. T...
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