Fu Z, Thorpe M, Akula S, Hellman L
PLoS ONE 11 (5) e0154886 [2016-05-06; online 2016-05-06]
Granzyme B is one of the key effector molecules in our defense against viruses and intracellular bacteria. This serine protease together with the pore forming protein perforin, induces caspase or Bid-dependent apoptosis in target cells. Here we present the first characterization of a granzyme B homolog, the grathepsodenase, in a non-placental mammal, the American opossum (Monodelphis domestica). The recombinant enzyme was produced in a human cell line and used to study its primary and extended cleavage specificity using a panel of chromogenic substrates and recombinant protein substrates. The opossum granzyme B was found to have a specificity similar to human granzyme B, although slightly less restrictive in its extended specificity. The identification of a granzyme B homolog with asp-ase (cleaving after aspartic acid) specificity in a non-placental mammal provides strong indications that caspase or Bid-dependent apoptosis by a serine protease with a conserved primary specificity has been part of anti-viral immunity since early mammalian evolution. This finding also indicates that an asp-ase together with a chymase were the first two serine protease genes to appear in the mammalian chymase locus.