ABSTRACT: While earlier studies of Apaf-1 holo-apoptosome architecture revealed the spectacular heptameric wheel-like structure formed by Apaf-1, the central CARD disk responsible for caspase-9 recruitment remained incompletely resolved. In a recent issue of Structure, Su et al. (2017) describe a crystal structure of the complex between Apaf-1 CARD and caspase-9 CARD. Together with two recent cryo-EM structures, this work brings us closer to a full view of the holo-apoptosome.
Project description:Mammalian intrinsic apoptosis requires activation of the initiator caspase-9, which then cleaves and activates the effector caspases to execute cell killing. The heptameric Apaf-1 apoptosome is indispensable for caspase-9 activation by together forming a holoenzyme. The molecular mechanism of caspase-9 activation remains largely enigmatic. Here, we report the cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of an apoptotic holoenzyme and structure-guided biochemical analyses. The caspase recruitment domains (CARDs) of Apaf-1 and caspase-9 assemble in two different ways: a 4:4 complex docks onto the central hub of the apoptosome, and a 2:1 complex binds the periphery of the central hub. The interface between the CARD complex and the central hub is required for caspase-9 activation within the holoenzyme. Unexpectedly, the CARD of free caspase-9 strongly inhibits its proteolytic activity. These structural and biochemical findings demonstrate that the apoptosome activates caspase-9 at least in part through sequestration of the inhibitory CARD domain.
Project description:The caspase recruitment domain (CARD) is present in a large number of proteins. Initially, the CARD was recognized as part of the caspase activation machinery. CARD-CARD interactions play a role in apoptosis and are responsible for the Apaf-1-mediated activation of procaspase-9 in the apoptosome. CARD-containing proteins mediate the inflammasome-dependent activation of proinflammatory caspase-1. More recently, new roles for CARD-containing proteins have been reported in signaling pathways associated with immune responses. The functional role of CARD-containing proteins and CARDs in coordinating apoptosis and inflammatory and immune responses is not completely understood. We have explored the putative cross-talk between apoptosis and inflammation by analyzing the modulatory activity on both the Apaf-1/procaspase-9 interaction and the inflammasome-mediated procaspase-1 activation of CARD-derived polypeptides. To this end, we analyzed the activity of individual recombinant CARDs, rationally designed CARD-derived peptides, and peptides derived from phage display.
Project description:Apoptosome assembly is highly regulated in the intrinsic cell death pathway. To better understand this step, we created an improved model of the human apoptosome using a crystal structure of full length Apaf-1 and a single particle, electron density map at ~9.5 Å resolution. The apoptosome model includes N-terminal domains of Apaf-1, cognate ?-propellers, and cytochrome c. A direct comparison of Apaf-1 in the apoptosome and as a monomer reveals conformational changes that occur during the first two steps of assembly. This includes an induced-fit mechanism for cytochrome c binding to regulatory ?-propellers, which is dependent on shape and charge complementarity, and a large rotation of the nucleotide binding module during nucleotide exchange. These linked conformational changes create an extended Apaf-1 monomer and drive apoptosome assembly. Moreover, the N-terminal CARD in the inactive Apaf-1 monomer is not shielded from other proteins by ?-propellers. Hence, the Apaf-1 CARD may be free to interact with a procaspase-9 CARD either before or during apoptosome assembly. Irrespective of the timing, the end product of assembly is a holo-apoptosome with an acentric CARD-CARD disk and tethered pc-9 catalytic domains. Subsequent activation of pc-9 leads to a proteolytic cascade and cell death.
Project description:Caspase-9 is a critical factor in the initiation of apoptosis and as a result is tightly regulated by many mechanisms. Caspase-9 contains a Caspase Activation and Recruitment Domain (CARD), which enables caspase-9 to form a tight interaction with the apoptosome, a heptameric activating platform. The caspase-9 CARD has been thought to be principally involved in recruitment to the apoptosome, but its roles outside this interaction have yet to be uncovered. In this work, we show that the CARD is involved in physical interactions with the catalytic core of caspase-9 in the absence of the apoptosome; this interaction requires a properly formed caspase-9 active site. The active sites of caspases are composed of four extremely mobile loops. When the active-site loops are not properly ordered, the CARD and core domains of caspase-9 do not interact and behave independently, like loosely tethered beads. When the active-site loop bundle is properly ordered, the CARD domain interacts with the catalytic core, forming a single folding unit. Taken together, these findings provide mechanistic insights into a new level of caspase-9 regulation, prompting speculation that the CARD may also play a role in the recruitment or recognition of substrate.
Project description:Apaf-1 coassembles with cytochrome c to form the apoptosome, which then binds and activates procaspase-9 (pc-9). We removed pc-9 catalytic domains from the holoapoptosome by site-directed thrombinolysis. A structure of the resulting apoptosome-pc-9 CARD complex was then determined at approximately 9.5 A resolution. In our model, the central hub is constructed like other AAA+ protein rings but also contains novel features. At higher radius, the regulatory region of each Apaf-1 is comprised of tandem seven and eight blade beta-propellers with cytochrome c docked between them. Remarkably, Apaf-1 CARDs are disordered in the ground state. During activation, each Apaf-1 CARD interacts with a pc-9 CARD and these heterodimers form a flexibly tethered "disk" that sits above the central hub. When taken together, the data reveal conformational changes during Apaf-1 assembly that allow pc-9 activation. The model also provides a plausible explanation for the effects of NOD mutations that have been mapped onto the central hub.
Project description:Autocatalytic activation of an initiator caspase triggers the onset of apoptosis. In dying cells, caspase-9 activation is mediated by a multimeric adaptor complex known as the Apaf-1 apoptosome. The molecular mechanism by which caspase-9 is activated by the Apaf-1 apoptosome remains largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that the previously reported 1:1 interaction between Apaf-1 caspase recruitment domain (CARD) and caspase-9 CARD is insufficient for the activation of caspase-9. Rather, formation of a multimeric CARD:CARD assembly between Apaf-1 and caspase-9, which requires three types of distinct interfaces, underlies caspase-9 activation. Importantly, an additional surface area on the multimeric CARD assembly is essential for caspase-9 activation. Together, these findings reveal mechanistic insights into the activation of caspase-9 by the Apaf-1 apoptosome and support the induced conformation model for initiator caspase activation by adaptor complexes.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Translationally controlled tumor protein (TCTP), alternatively called fortilin, is believed to be involved in the development of the chemoresistance of tumor cells against anticancer drugs such as etoposide, taxol, and oxaliplatin, the underlying mechanisms of which still remain elusive. METHODS: Cell death analysis of TCTP-overexpressing HeLa cells was performed following etoposide treatment to assess the mitochondria-dependent apoptosis. Apoptotic pathway was analyzed through measuring the cleavage of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and phospholipase C-? (PLC-?), caspase activation, mitochondrial membrane perturbation, and cytochrome c release by flow cytometry and western blotting. To clarify the role of TCTP in the inhibition of apoptosome, in vitro apoptosome reconstitution and immunoprecipitation was used. Pull-down assay and silver staining using the variants of Apaf-1 protein was applied to identify the domain that is responsible for its interaction with TCTP. RESULTS: In the present study, we confirmed that adenoviral overexpression of TCTP protects HeLa cells from cell death induced by cytotoxic drugs such as taxol and etoposide. TCTP antagonized the mitochondria-dependent apoptotic pathway following etoposide treatment, including mitochondrial membrane damage and resultant cytochrome c release, activation of caspase-9, and -3, and eventually, the cleavage of EGFR and PLC-?. More importantly, TCTP interacts with the caspase recruitment domain (CARD) of Apaf-1 and is incorporated into the heptameric Apaf-1 complex, and that C-terminal cleaved TCTP specifically associates with Apaf-1 of apoptosome in apoptosome-forming condition thereby inhibiting the amplification of caspase cascade. CONCLUSIONS: TCTP protects the cancer cells from etoposide-induced cell death by inhibiting the mitochondria-mediated apoptotic pathway. Interaction of TCTP with Apaf-1 in apoptosome is involved in the molecular mechanism of TCTP-induced chemoresistance. These findings suggest that TCTP may serve as a therapeutic target for chemoresistance in cancer treatment.
Project description:Direct recruitment and activation of caspase-9 by Apaf-1 through the homophilic CARD/CARD (Caspase Recruitment Domain) interaction is critical for the activation of caspases downstream of mitochondrial damage in apoptosis. Here we report the solution structure of the Apaf-1 CARD domain and its surface of interaction with caspase-9 CARD. Apaf-1 CARD consists of six tightly packed amphipathic alpha-helices and is topologically similar to the RAIDD CARD, with the exception of a kink observed in the middle of the N-terminal helix. By using chemical shift perturbation data, the homophilic interaction was mapped to the acidic surface of Apaf-1 CARD centered around helices 2 and 3. Interestingly, a significant portion of the chemically perturbed residues are hydrophobic, indicating that in addition to the electrostatic interactions predicted previously, hydrophobic interaction is also an important driving force underlying the CARD/CARD interaction. On the basis of the identified functional residues of Apaf-1 CARD and the surface charge complementarity, we propose a model of CARD/CARD interaction between Apaf-1 and caspase-9.
Project description:Apoptosis is executed by a cascade of caspase activation. The autocatalytic activation of an initiator caspase, exemplified by caspase-9 in mammals or its ortholog, Dronc, in fruit flies, is facilitated by a multimeric adaptor complex known as the apoptosome. The underlying mechanism by which caspase-9 or Dronc is activated by the apoptosome remains unknown. Here we report the electron cryomicroscopic (cryo-EM) structure of the intact apoptosome from Drosophila melanogaster at 4.0 Å resolution. Analysis of the Drosophila apoptosome, which comprises 16 molecules of the Dark protein (Apaf-1 ortholog), reveals molecular determinants that support the assembly of the 2.5-MDa complex. In the absence of dATP or ATP, Dronc zymogen potently induces formation of the Dark apoptosome, within which Dronc is efficiently activated. At 4.1 Å resolution, the cryo-EM structure of the Dark apoptosome bound to the caspase recruitment domain (CARD) of Dronc (Dronc-CARD) reveals two stacked rings of Dronc-CARD that are sandwiched between two octameric rings of the Dark protein. The specific interactions between Dronc-CARD and both the CARD and the WD40 repeats of a nearby Dark protomer are indispensable for Dronc activation. These findings reveal important mechanistic insights into the activation of initiator caspase by the apoptosome.
Project description:Activation of procaspase-9 on the apoptosome is a pivotal step in the intrinsic cell death pathway. We now provide further evidence that caspase recruitment domains of pc-9 and Apaf-1 form a CARD-CARD disk that is flexibly tethered to the apoptosome. In addition, a 3D reconstruction of the pc-9 apoptosome was calculated without symmetry restraints. In this structure, p20 and p10 catalytic domains of a single pc-9 interact with nucleotide binding domains of adjacent Apaf-1 subunits. Together, disk assembly and pc-9 binding create an asymmetric proteolysis machine. We also show that CARD-p20 and p20-p10 linkers play important roles in pc-9 activation. Based on the data, we propose a proximity-induced association model for pc-9 activation on the apoptosome. We also show that pc-9 and caspase-3 have overlapping binding sites on the central hub. These binding sites may play a role in pc-3 activation and could allow the formation of hybrid apoptosomes with pc-9 and caspase-3 proteolytic activities.