Temporal regulation of VEID-7-amino-4-trifluoromethylcoumarin cleavage activity and caspase-6 correlates with organelle loss during lens development

J Biol Chem. 2004 Jul 30;279(31):32142-50. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M313683200. Epub 2004 May 25.


Lens fiber cell differentiation involves extensive reconstruction of the cell's architecture, including the degradation and elimination of all membrane-bound organelles via a process that has been likened to apoptosis. Using caspase reporter assays under conditions in which nonspecific cleavage of the reporter peptides by the proteasome has been inhibited, we investigated whether any specific caspase activities are temporally correlated with this process of organelle loss. Extracts from neonatal mouse lenses contained strong VEID-7-amino-4-trifluoromethylcoumarin (AFC) and minor IETD-AFC and LEVD-AFC cleavage activities, but no DEVD-AFC cleavage activity. Further testing suggested that the VEID-AFC and IETD-AFC cleavage activities were likely due to the same enzyme. In lens extracts from rat embryos, VEID-AFC cleavage activity increased during the period when organelles are eliminated, between embryonic days 15.5 and 18.5, whereas procaspase-6 protein levels decreased, suggesting that this enzyme is responsible for VEID-AFC cleavage. By contrast, in extracts from alpha AE7 transgenic mouse lenses in which apoptosis was induced, strong DEVD-AFC cleavage activity and activated caspase-3 protein were detected. Thus, within the same tissue, different caspase activities can predominate depending on the context, normal differentiation versus apoptosis. These results highlight the difference between normal fiber cell differentiation and apoptosis and the capacity of the lens to differentially regulate these two processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Apoptosis
  • Blotting, Western
  • CHO Cells
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspase 6
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Coumarins / chemistry*
  • Coumarins / metabolism*
  • Cricetinae
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Lens, Crystalline / enzymology
  • Lens, Crystalline / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Multienzyme Complexes / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism
  • Oligopeptides / chemistry*
  • Oligopeptides / metabolism*
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Time Factors
  • Transgenes


  • Coumarins
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Oligopeptides
  • Peptides
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • aspartyl-glutamyl-valyl-aspartyl-7-amino-4-trifluoromethylcoumarin
  • valyl-glutamyl-isoleucyl-aspartyl-7-amino-4-trifluoromethylcoumarin
  • CASP3 protein, human
  • CASP6 protein, human
  • Casp3 protein, mouse
  • Casp3 protein, rat
  • Casp6 protein, mouse
  • Casp6 protein, rat
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspase 6
  • Caspases
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex