Caspases are proteases involved in various physiological and pathological processes in the nervous system, including development and pathogenesis. GRASP-1 is a recently identified neuronal substrate of caspase-3-subfamily caspases. It is a Ras-guanine nucleotide exchange factor (RasGEF) that interacts with the glutamate receptor interacting protein (GRIP). This α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate (AMPA) receptor/GRIP protein complex has been proposed to be involved in AMPA receptor synaptic targeting. The caspase-3 cleavage of GRASP-1 separates the N-terminal RasGEF catalytic domain from the C-terminal GRIP-interacting region, potentially disrupting regulation of the RasGEF activity by GRIP. To examine the regulation and regional distribution of the caspase-3 cleavage of GRASP-1 in vivo, we generated a cleavage site-specific antibody, termed CGP, against the cleaved N-terminal fragment of GRASP-1. Using this antibody, we have examined the caspase cleavage of GRASP-1 during postnatal development and following ischemia in mice. We found that caspase cleavage of GRASP-1 occurs in specific brain regions in a time-dependent manner during development and ischemia. This data provides an important account of the brain areas that might require caspase-3 activity in postnatal development and ischemic damage, which has not been documented. It also demonstrates that the CGP antibody is a powerful tool for studying neuronal activity of the caspase-3-subfamily caspases in vivo.
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