Caspases, the cysteine proteases which facilitate the faithful execution of apoptosis, are tightly regulated by a number of mechanisms including phosphorylation. In response to cAMP, PKA phosphorylates caspase-9 at three sites preventing caspase-9 activation, and suppressing apoptosis progression. Phosphorylation of caspase-9 by PKA at the functionally relevant site Ser-183 acts as an upstream block of the apoptotic cascade, directly inactivating caspase-9 by a two-stage mechanism. First, Ser-183 phosphorylation prevents caspase-9 self-processing and directly blocks substrate binding. In addition, Ser-183 phosphorylation breaks the fundamental interactions within the caspase-9 core, promoting disassembly of the large and small subunits. This occurs despite Ser-183 being a surface residue distal from the interface between the large and small subunits. This phosphorylation-induced disassembly promotes the formation of ordered aggregates around 20 nm in diameter. Similar aggregates of caspase-9 have not been previously reported. This two-stage regulatory mechanism for caspase-9 has likewise not been reported previously but may be conserved across the caspases.
Cell Death & Differentiation – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 19, 2018
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