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Activity-based monitoring of cell-secreted proteases has gained significant interest due to the implication of these substances in diverse cellular functions. Here, we demonstrated a cell-based method of monitoring protease activity using fluorescent cell-permeable peptides. The activatable peptide consists of anionic (EEEE), cleavable, and cationic sequences (RRRR) that enable intracellular delivery by matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP2), which is secreted by living cancer cells. Compared to HT-29 cells (MMP2-negative), HT-1080 cells (MMP2-positive) showed a strong fluorescence response to the short fluorescent peptide via cell-secreted protease activation. Our approach is expected to find applications for the rapid visualization of protease activity in living cells.


Gae-Baik Kim, Jeong Min Lee, Duc Long Nguyen, Joonseok Lee, Young-Pil Kim. Activatable Peptides for Rapid and Simple Visualization of Protease Activity Secreted in Living Cells. International journal of molecular sciences. 2022 Jan 30;23(3)

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PMID: 35163529

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