Insights into the mechanism of isoenzymespecific signal peptide peptidase-mediated translocation of heme oxygenase

It has recently been shown that signal peptide peptidase (SPP) can catalyze the intramembrane cleavage of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) that leads to translocation of HO-1 into the cytosol and nucleus. While there is consensus that translocated HO-1 promotes tumor progression and drug resistance, the physiological signals leading to SPP-mediated intramembrane cleavage of HO-1 and the specificity of the process remain unclear. In this study, we used co-immunoprecipitation and confocal laser scanning microscopy to investigate the translocation mechanism of HO-1 and its regulation by SPP. We show that HO-1 and the closely related HO-2 isoenzyme bind to SPP under normoxic conditions. Under hypoxic conditions SPP mediates intramembrane cleavage of HO-1, but not HO-2. In experiments with an inactive HO-1 mutant (H25A) we show that translocation is independent of the catalytic activity of HO-1. Studies with HO-1 / HO-2 chimeras indicate that the membrane anchor, the PEST-domain and the nuclear shuttle sequence of HO-1 are necessary for full cleavage and subsequent translocation under hypoxic conditions. In the presence of co-expressed exogenous SPP, the anchor and the PEST-domain are sufficient for translocation. Taken together, we identified the domains involved in HO-1 translocation and showed that SPPmediated cleavage is isoform-specific and independent of HO-activity. A closer understanding of the translocation mechanism of HO-1 is of particular importance because nuclear HO- 1 seems to lead to tumor progression and drug resistance.


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