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Intracellular Photoactivation of Caspase‑3 by Molecular Glues for Spatiotemporal Apoptosis Induction

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journal contribution
posted on 14.04.2020, 16:03 by Nina B. Hentzen, Rina Mogaki, Saya Otake, Kou Okuro, Takuzo Aida
Caspase-3 (Casp-3) is an enzyme that efficiently induces apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death. We report a dendritic molecular glue PCGlue that enables intracellular delivery of Casp-3 and its photoactivation. PCGlue carrying multiple guanidinium (Gu+) ion pendants via photocleavable linkages can tightly adhere to Casp-3 and deliver it into the cytoplasm mainly by direct penetration through the plasma membrane. Casp-3, whose surface is covered by PCGlue, is unable to interact with its cellular substrates and can therefore not induce apoptosis. However, upon exposure to UV or two-photon near-infrared (NIR) light, PCGlue is cleaved off to liberate Casp-3, triggering the apoptotic signaling cascade. This intracellular photoactivation of Casp-3 allows spatiotemporal induction of apoptosis in irradiated cells.