Highly sensitive and adaptable fluorescence-quenched pair discloses the substrate specificity profiles in diverse protease families.
Poreba M., Szalek A., Rut W., Kasperkiewicz P., Rutkowska-Wlodarczyk I., Snipas SJ., Itoh Y., Turk D., Turk B., Overall CM., Kaczmarek L., Salvesen GS., Drag M.
Internally quenched fluorescent (IQF) peptide substrates originating from FRET (Förster Resonance Energy Transfer) are powerful tool for examining the activity and specificity of proteases, and a variety of donor/acceptor pairs are extensively used to design individual substrates and combinatorial libraries. We developed a highly sensitive and adaptable donor/acceptor pair that can be used to investigate the substrate specificity of cysteine proteases, serine proteases and metalloproteinases. This novel pair comprises 7-amino-4-carbamoylmethylcoumarin (ACC) as the fluorophore and 2,4-dinitrophenyl-lysine (Lys(DNP)) as the quencher. Using caspase-3, caspase-7, caspase-8, neutrophil elastase, legumain, and two matrix metalloproteinases (MMP2 and MMP9), we demonstrated that substrates containing ACC/Lys(DNP) exhibit 7 to 10 times higher sensitivity than conventional 7-methoxy-coumarin-4-yl acetic acid (MCA)/Lys(DNP) substrates; thus, substantially lower amounts of substrate and enzyme can be used for each assay. We therefore propose that the ACC/Lys(DNP) pair can be considered a novel and sensitive scaffold for designing substrates for any group of endopeptidases. We further demonstrate that IQF substrates containing unnatural amino acids can be used to investigate protease activities/specificities for peptides containing post-translationally modified amino acids. Finally, we used IQF substrates to re-investigate the P1-Asp characteristic of caspases, thus demonstrating that some human caspases can also hydrolyze substrates after glutamic acid.