The broad-spectrum apoptosis (caspase) inhibitor, Q-VD-OPh, has been shown to have no side effects and is effective at a much lower concentration than other FMK-type caspase inhibitors. However, an appropriate negative control to use with this inhibi- tor has not been available. In this study, we developed and analyzed a new compound, based on the Q-VD-OPh backbone, which acts as a cognate negative control. To create the negative control, we substituted a glutamate residue for the aspartate residue to create Q-VE-OPh, thereby retaining the identical charge and molecular properties with only the addition of an extra –CH2 group. The purity and quality were assessed by ion trap mass spectrometry and verified by nuclear magnetic resonance. We determined the effectiveness of Q-VE-OPh, in comparison to Q-VD-OPh, to prevent DNA fragmentation in human Jurkat T leukemia cells that were induced to undergo apoptosis. DNA fragmentation was analyzed by agarose gel electrophoresis for the presence of DNA laddering, the hallmark indicator of apoptosis. Our results indicate that apoptosis was potently inhibited by Q-VD-OPh. In stark contrast, Q-VE-OPh did not inhibit apoptosis at a similar dose but required at least 20 times greater concentration than Q-VD-OPh to have any inhibitory effect. Western blot analysis showed that Q-VE-OPh was similarly less effective at inhibiting the activation of the extrinsic (caspase 8) and intrinsic (caspase 9) initiator caspases. Cell proliferation and viability studies further demonstrate that Q-VE-OPh is non-toxic, even at high concentration. Our data indicate that the specificity, effectiveness, and absence of toxicity of Q-VE-OPh provides the appropriate and superior negative control for in vitro and in vivo studies when analyzing the effects of o-phenoxy caspase inhibitors.
Grunwald, W. C.,
Ketcha, D. M.,
Cool, D. R.,
& Brown, T. L.
(2010). Q-VE-OPh, a Negative Control for O-Phenoxy-Conjugated Caspase Inhibitors. Journal of Cell Death, 33-40.