Cell Death Dis 14 (3) 192 [2023-03-11; online 2023-03-11]
Caspases are a family of proteins mostly known for their role in the activation of the apoptotic pathway leading to cell death. In the last decade, caspases have been found to fulfill other tasks regulating the cell phenotype independently to cell death. Microglia are the immune cells of the brain responsible for the maintenance of physiological brain functions but can also be involved in disease progression when overactivated. We have previously described non-apoptotic roles of caspase-3 (CASP3) in the regulation of the inflammatory phenotype of microglial cells or pro-tumoral activation in the context of brain tumors. CASP3 can regulate protein functions by cleavage of their target and therefore could have multiple substrates. So far, identification of CASP3 substrates has been performed mostly in apoptotic conditions where CASP3 activity is highly upregulated and these approaches do not have the capacity to uncover CASP3 substrates at the physiological level. In our study, we aim at discovering novel substrates of CASP3 involved in the normal regulation of the cell. We used an unconventional approach by chemically reducing the basal level CASP3-like activity (by DEVD-fmk treatment) coupled to a Mass Spectrometry screen (PISA) to identify proteins with different soluble amounts, and consequently, non-cleaved proteins in microglia cells. PISA assay identified several proteins with significant change in their solubility after DEVD-fmk treatment, including a few already known CASP3 substrates which validated our approach. Among them, we focused on the Collectin-12 (COLEC12 or CL-P1) transmembrane receptor and uncovered a potential role for CASP3 cleavage of COLEC12 in the regulation of the phagocytic capacity of microglial cells. Taken together, these findings suggest a new way to uncover non-apoptotic substrates of CASP3 important for the modulation of microglia cell physiology.