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    Current clinical laboratory assays are not sufficient for determining the activity of many specific human proteases yet. In this study, we developed a general approach that enables the determination of activities of caspase-3 based on the proteolytic activation of the engineered zymogen of the recombinant tyrosinase from Verrucomicrobium spinosum (Vs-tyrosinase) by detecting the diphenolase activity in an increase in absorbance at 475 nm. Here, we designed three different zymogen constructs of Vs-tyrosinase, including RSL-pre-pro-TYR, Pre-pro-TYR, and Pro-TYR. The active domain was fused to the reactive site loop (RSL) of α1-proteinase inhibitor and/or its own signal peptide (pre) and/or its own C-terminal domain (pro) via a linker containing a specific caspase-3 cleavage site. Further studies revealed that both RSL peptide and TAT signal peptide were able to inhibit tyrosinase diphenolase activity, in which RSL-pre-pro-TYR had the lowest background signals. Therefore, a specific protease activity such as caspase-3 could be detected when a suitable zymogen was established. Our results could provide a new way to directly detect the activities of key human proteases, for instance, to monitor the efficacy and safety of tumor therapy by determining the activity of apoptosis-related caspase-3 in patients. KEY POINTS: • RSL inhibited the activity of Verrucomicrobium spinosum tyrosinase. • N-pre and C-terminal domain exerted stronger dual inhibition on the Vs-tyrosinase. • The activity of caspase-3 could be measured by the zymogen activation system. © 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


    Junhua Zhang, Wei Huang, Lanxin Zhang, Xiaokun Tang, Gaoyuan Sun, Lihui Zou. Modifying a bacterial tyrosinase zymogen for use in protease activity assays. Applied microbiology and biotechnology. 2022 Dec;106(24):8285-8294

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    PMID: 36404357

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