A caspase-9 variant missing the catalytic site is an endogenous inhibitor of apoptosis

Dai Wu Seol*, Timothy R. Billiar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


It is likely that endogenous inhibitors of the apical caspases such as caspase-9 exist to prevent undesirable activation of caspase cascades. A naturally occurring variant of caspase-9 named caspase-9S was cloned from human liver. Caspase-9S is missing most of the large subunit of caspase-9, including the catalytic site, but has the intact prodomain and small subunit. Caspase-9S did not show apoptotic activity in transfection analysis. Overexpression of caspase-9S inhibited apoptosis induced by caspase-9, indicating that caspase-9S is an endogenous dominant-negative of caspase-9. Moreover, caspase-9S inhibited apoptosis induced by tumor necrosis factor(TNF)-a, TNF factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), Bax, or Fas-associated death domain-containing protein (FADD) as well as the combination of Apaf-1 and caspase-9. In vitro binding assays demonstrated that caspase-9S binds to Apaf-1 and blocks the binding of caspase-9 to Apaf- 1. Coexpression of caspase-9 and caspase-9S mRNA was identified in various cell lines. Thus, caspase-9S acts as a dominant-negative inhibitor of caspase-9 activation, at least in part, by blocking Apaf-1-caspase-9 interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2072-2076
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 22 Jan 1999
Externally publishedYes


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