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A Small-Molecule Activity-Based Probe for Monitoring Ubiquitin C-terminal Hydrolase L1 (UCHL1) Activity in Live Cells and Zebrafish Embryos

By Paul P. Geurink, Raymond Kooij, Aysegul Sapmaz, Sijia Liu, Bo-Tao Xin, George M C Janssen, Peter A. van Veelen, Peter ten Dijke, Huib Ovaa

Posted 01 Nov 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/827642

Many reagents have been emerged to study the function of specific enzymes in vitro. On the other hand, target specific reagents are scarce or need improvement allowing investigations of the function of individual enzymes in a cellular context. We here report the development of a target-selective fluorescent small-molecule activity-based DUB probe that is active in live cells and whole animals. The probe labels active Ubiquitin Carboxy-terminal Hydrolase L1 (UCHL1), also known as neuron-specific protein PGP9.5 (PGP9.5) and parkinson disease 5 (PARK5), a DUB active in neurons that constitutes 1-2% of total brain protein. UCHL1 variants have been linked with the neurodegenerative disorders Parkinsons and Alzheimers disease. In addition, high levels of UCHL1 also correlate often with cancer and especially metastasis. The function of UCHL1 or its role in cancer and neurodegenerative disease is poorly understood and few UCHL1 specific research tools exist. We show that the reagents reported here are specific for UCHL1 over all other DUBs detectable by competitive activity-based protein profiling and by mass spectrometry. Our probe, which contains a cyanimide reactive moiety, binds to the active-site cysteine residue of UCHL1 irreversibly in an activity-dependent manner. Its use is demonstrated by labelling of UCHL1 both in vitro and in cells. We furthermore show that this probe can report UCHL1 activity during the development of zebrafish embryos.

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