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The major calpain isozymes are long-lived proteins. Design of an antisense strategy for calpain depletion in cultured cells.

Zhang W., Lane R.D., Mellgren R.L.

Calpains are intracellular Ca2+-dependent proteases that are thought to participate in Ca2+-associated signal transduction pathways. It has been proposed that calpains are activated by an autoproteolytic mechanism. If this is true one would expect a relatively short half-life for calpain protein in cells. To test this hypothesis, WI-38 human diploid fibroblasts were pulse-labeled with [35S]methionine, and calpain was immunoprecipitated at various times after chasing with nonradioactive methionine to determine residual radioactivity. The results demonstrated that the two major calpain isozymes, m-calpain and micro-calpain, had metabolic half-lives of approximately 5 days. Calpains were long-lived proteins in several human cell lines, A-431, HeLa, VA-13, C-33A, and TE2 cells. In addition, calpastatin, the calpain-specific inhibitor protein, also had a long metabolic half-life. These observations suggest that the model for calpain activation by autoproteolysis requires re-investigation. Based on a knowledge of calpain metabolic stability, a protocol was devised for chronic exposure of WI-38 cells and HeLa cells to a calpain small subunit antisense oligodeoxyribonucleotide. Depletion of calpain small subunit after 5 or more days of treatment led to inhibition of cell proliferation that could be reversed by removal of antisense oligodeoxyribonucleotide from the culture medium. Together with previous studies, these results indicate a requirement for calpains in mammalian cell proliferation.

J. Biol. Chem. 271:18825-18830(1996) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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