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Activation of Caspase-6 Is Promoted by a Mutant Huntingtin Fragment and Blocked by an Allosteric Inhibitor Compound

: Ehrnhoefer, D.E.; Skotte, N.H.; Reinshagen, J.; Qiu, X.; Windshügel, B.; Jaishankar, P.; Ladha, S.; Petina, O.; Khankischpur, M.; Nguyen, Y.T.N.; Caron, N.S.; Razeto, A.; Meyer zu Rheda, M.; Deng, Y.; Huynh, K.T.; Wittig, I.; Gribbon, P.; Renslo, A.R.; Geffken, D.; Gul, S.; Hayden, M.R.


Cell chemical biology 26 (2019), No.9, pp.1295-1305
ISSN: 2451-9456
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IME ()

Aberrant activation of caspase-6 (C6) in the absence of other hallmarks of apoptosis has been demonstrated in cells and tissues from patients with Huntington disease (HD) and animal models. C6 activity correlates with disease progression in patients with HD and the cleavage of mutant huntingtin (mHTT) protein is thought to strongly contribute to disease pathogenesis. Here we show that the mHTT1-586 fragment generated by C6 cleavage interacts with the zymogen form of the enzyme, stabilizing a conformation that contains an active site and is prone to full activation. This shift toward enhanced activity can be prevented by a small-molecule inhibitor that blocks the interaction between C6 and mHTT1-586. Molecular docking studies suggest that the inhibitor binds an allosteric site in the C6 zymogen. The interaction of mHTT1-586 with C6 may therefore promote a self-reinforcing, feedforward cycle of C6 zymogen activation and mHTT cleavage driving HD pathogenesis.