Detection of Protease Activity by Fluorescent Peptide Zymography.


Comprehensive Cancer Center, James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Center, Ohio State University; Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering, Ohio State University; [Email]


The purpose of this method is to measure the proteolytic activity of complex biological samples. The samples are separated by molecular weight using electrophoresis through a resolving gel embedded with a degradable substrate. This method differs from traditional gel zymography in that a quenched fluorogenic peptide is covalently incorporated into the resolving gel instead of full length proteins, such as gelatin or casein. Use of the fluorogenic peptides enables direct detection of proteolytic activity without additional staining steps. Enzymes within the biological samples cleave the quenched fluorogenic peptide, resulting in an increase in fluorescence. The fluorescent signal in the gels is then imaged with a standard fluorescent gel scanner and quantified using densitometry. The use of peptides as the degradable substrate greatly expands the possible proteases detectable with zymographic techniques.