Genetic characterization of two gain-of-function alleles of the effector caspase DrICE in Drosophila
Department of Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology
Biochemistry | Cell Biology | Genetics and Genomics | Molecular Biology
Caspases are the executioners of apoptosis. Although much is known about their physiological roles and structures, detailed analyses of missense mutations of caspases are lacking. As mutations within caspases are identified in various human diseases, the study of caspase mutants will help to elucidate how caspases interact with other components of the apoptosis pathway and how they may contribute to disease. DrICE is the major effector caspase in Drosophila required for developmental and stress-induced cell death. Here, we report the isolation and characterization of six de novo drICE mutants, all of which carry point mutations affecting amino acids conserved among caspases in various species. These six mutants behave as recessive loss-of-function mutants in a homozygous condition. Surprisingly, however, two of the newly isolated drICE alleles are gain-of-function mutants in a heterozygous condition, although they are loss-of-function mutants homozygously. Interestingly, they only behave as gain-of-function mutants in the presence of an apoptotic signal. These two alleles carry missense mutations affecting conserved amino acids in close proximity to the catalytic cysteine residue. This is the first time that viable gain-of-function alleles of caspases are described in any intact organism and provides a significant exception to the expectation that mutations of conserved amino acids always abolish the pro-apoptotic activity of caspases. We discuss models about how these mutations cause the gain-of-function character of these alleles.
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Citation: Cell Death Differ. 2016 Apr;23(4):723-32. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2015.144. Epub 2015 Nov 6. Link to article on publisher's site
Wu, Y.; Lindblad, Jillian L.; Garnett, J.; Kamber Kaya, H. E.; Xu, D.; Zhao, Y.; Flores, E. R.; Hardy, J.; and Bergmann, Andreas, "Genetic characterization of two gain-of-function alleles of the effector caspase DrICE in Drosophila" (2016). Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology Publications. 63.