The Journal of biological chemistry

Sensitive Versatile Fluorogenic Transmembrane Peptide Substrates for Rhomboid Intramembrane Proteases.

PMID 28069810


Rhomboid proteases are increasingly being explored as potential drug targets, but their potent and specific inhibitors are not available, and strategies for inhibitor development are hampered by the lack of widely usable and easily modifiable in vitro activity assays. Here we address this bottleneck and report on the development of new fluorogenic transmembrane peptide substrates, which are cleaved by several unrelated rhomboid proteases, can be used both in detergent micelles and in liposomes, and contain red-shifted fluorophores that are suitable for high-throughput screening of compound libraries. We show that nearly the entire transmembrane domain of the substrate is important for efficient cleavage, implying that it extensively interacts with the enzyme. Importantly, we demonstrate that in the detergent micelle system, commonly used for the enzymatic analyses of intramembrane proteolysis, the cleavage rate strongly depends on detergent concentration, because the reaction proceeds only in the micelles. Furthermore, we show that the catalytic efficiency and selectivity toward a rhomboid substrate can be dramatically improved by targeted modification of the sequence of its P5 to P1 region. The fluorogenic substrates that we describe and their sequence variants should find wide use in the detection of activity and development of inhibitors of rhomboid proteases.

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