Measuring human beta-secretase (BACE1) activity using HTRF

Literature Life Science

Development of an HTRF assay for measuring BACE1 activity in a high throughput manner


The human -secretase enzyme, BACE1, mediates a critical step in the production of A40 and A42 peptides which are responsible for the severe neuronal cell death and insoluble amyloid plaques of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Several lines of evidence suggest that potent BACE1 inhibitors represent an attractive A-lowering strategy for AD. We designed a simple homogeneous time-resolved fluorescence (HTRF) assay which utilizes the fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) pair europium and allophycocyanin for measuring BACE1 enzymatic activity in a high-throughput manner. Robust FRET was observed when an 18-amino-acid APP Swedish-synthetic peptide that was N-terminally labeled with europium cryptate and C-terminally biotinylated was incubated with streptavidin-coupled cross-linked allophycocyanin (SA-XL665). Purified BACE1 enzyme caused a time- and concentration-dependent linear change in FRET at low nanomolar enzyme concentrations. This assay was used to compare the autoprocessed “mature” BACE1 enzyme (sautoBACe1) and the soluble proBACE1 for activity and inhibition by selected peptidic BACE inhibitors. sautoBACE1 displayed only a modest increase in activity compared to sproBACE1 and this activity was uninhibited by the BACE1 prodomain peptide. Interestingly, the BACE1 prodomain peptide was able to partially inhibit sproBACE1 activity. IC50s for a P10-P4′ statine BACE1 inhibitor, OM99-2, and OM-003 determined using the HTRF assay were in good agreement with those reported in the literature. The primary advantages of the HTRF-formatted BACE1 protease assay include appropriate reflection of native BACE1 activity, high sensitivity, low variability, and intrinsic quench correction afforded by ratiometric measurements made between EuK and SA-XL665 fluorophores.


Anal. Biochem. 2003; 319:49-55

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