Article

Apoptosome structure, assembly, and procaspase activation.

Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Boston University School of Medicine, 700 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118, USA.
Structure (Impact Factor: 6.79). 04/2013; 21(4):501-15. DOI: 10.1016/j.str.2013.02.024
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Apaf-1-like molecules assemble into a ring-like platform known as the apoptosome. This cell death platform then activates procaspases in the intrinsic cell death pathway. In this review, crystal structures of Apaf-1 monomers and CED-4 dimers have been combined with apoptosome structures to provide insights into the assembly of cell death platforms in humans, nematodes, and flies. In humans, the caspase recognition domains (CARDs) of procaspase-9 and Apaf-1 interact with each other to form a CARD-CARD disk, which interacts with the platform to create an asymmetric proteolysis machine. The disk tethers multiple pc-9 catalytic domains to the platform to raise their local concentration, and this leads to zymogen activation. These findings have now set the stage for further studies of this critical activation process on the apoptosome.

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