Indexed on: 28 Jul '06Published on: 28 Jul '06Published in: ChemBioChem
Inside the cell, proteases act in concert in the degradation of proteins and peptides. In order to understand the significance of an individual proteolytic activity within an ensemble of proteases, protocols and probes are required that enable a quantitative determination of the contribution of a protease to the break-down of a given substrate. Here we present a fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based probe and protocols for a quantitative determination of proteolytic activities inside the endolysosomal compartment. A peptide substrate that is readily cleaved by different cathepsins is flanked by fluorescein and tetramethylrhodamine-labeled lysine residues. Efficient endolysosomal targeting of the substrate is achieved by N-terminal elongation with the cell-penetrating peptide nona-arginine. The proteasome inhibitor lactacystin has a small, but significant effect on the break-down of the substrate, thus demonstrating that only a minor fraction of the peptide reaches the cytoplasm in its intact form. Nona-arginine therefore constitutes a highly efficient low-molecular-weight moiety for targeting the endolysosomal compartment.