Binding Sites; Caspase 6/metabolism; Cell Line; Gene Expression Regulation; Humans; Huntingtin Protein/genetics; Huntington Disease/metabolism/pathology; Models, Biological; Protein Interaction Maps; Protein Processing, Post-Translational; Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases/metabolism; Serine-Threonine Kinase 3; Two-Hybrid System Techniques
[en] Caspase-6 (CASP6) has emerged as an important player in Huntington disease (HD), Alzheimer disease (AD) and cerebral ischemia, where it is activated early in the disease process. CASP6 also plays a key role in axonal degeneration, further underscoring the importance of this protease in neurodegenerative pathways. As a protein's function is modulated by its protein-protein interactions, we performed a high-throughput yeast-2-hybrid (Y2H) screen against ∼17,000 human proteins to gain further insight into the function of CASP6. We identified a high-confidence list of 87 potential CASP6 interactors. From this list, 61% are predicted to contain a CASP6 recognition site. Of nine candidate substrates assessed, six are cleaved by CASP6. Proteins that did not contain a predicted CASP6 recognition site were assessed using a LUMIER assay approach, and 51% were further validated as interactors by this method. Of note, 54% of the high-confidence interactors identified show alterations in human HD brain at the mRNA level, and there is a significant enrichment for previously validated huntingtin (HTT) interactors. One protein of interest, STK3, a pro-apoptotic kinase, was validated biochemically to be a CASP6 substrate. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that in striatal cells expressing mutant huntingtin (mHTT), an increase in full length and fragment levels of STK3 are observed. We further show that caspase-3 is not essential for the endogenous cleavage of STK3. Characterization of the interaction network provides important new information regarding key pathways of interactors of CASP6 and highlights potential novel therapeutic targets for HD, AD and cerebral ischemia.