Design and characterization of bivalent Smac-based peptides as antagonists of XIAP and development and validation of a fluorescence polarization assay for XIAP containing both BIR2 and BIR3 domains

Anal Biochem. 2008 Mar 1;374(1):87-98. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2007.10.032. Epub 2007 Nov 20.


XIAP (X-chromosome-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein) is an inhibitor of apoptosis by binding to and inhibition of caspase-3 and caspase-7 through its BIR2 domain and caspase-9 through its BIR3 domain. Smac (second mitochondria-derived activator of caspases) protein is an endogenous antagonist of XIAP. Smac forms a dimer and concurrently binds both the BIR2 and BIR3 domains in XIAP, functioning as a highly efficient and potent cellular inhibitor of XIAP. In this article, we have designed and synthesized a bivalent Smac-based ligand (Smac-1) and its fluorescent labeled analogue (Smac-1F) and characterized their interaction with different constructs of XIAP. Our study demonstrates that bivalent Smac-based ligands bind concurrently to both the BIR2 and BIR3 domains of XIAP and are more than 500 times more potent than the corresponding monovalent Smac-based ligands. Bivalent Smac-based ligands also function as much more potent antagonists of XIAP than do the corresponding monovalent Smac-based ligands in cell-free functional assays. Using Smac-1F and XIAP containing both BIR2 and BIR3 domains, we also developed and validated a new fluorescence polarization-based assay. Hence, our designed bivalent Smac-based peptides mimic the mode of dimeric Smac protein in their interaction with XIAP containing both BIR2 and BIR3 domains and achieve extremely high potency in binding and functional assays. Our study provides new insights into the mode of action of bivalent Smac ligands targeting XIAP and a basis for the design and development of cell-permeable, bivalent Smac mimetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Biomimetic Materials / chemical synthesis
  • Caspase Inhibitors
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Fluorescence Polarization / methods
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / chemical synthesis*
  • Kinetics
  • Ligands
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / chemical synthesis*
  • Oligopeptides / chemical synthesis*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein / analysis*
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Caspase Inhibitors
  • DIABLO protein, human
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Oligopeptides
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein
  • XIAP protein, human