In plant different types of proteolytic enzymes are associated with abiotic and biotic stress or developmentally triggered Programmed Cell Death (PCD). It is still not clear if this proteolytic activity is a regulatory component in an ordered breakdown pro cess rather than being a random autolysis intracellular proteins. However, in analogy with the established participation of proteases in the regulation of animal PCD, specific plant proteases are expected to regulate plant PCD likewise. There are several r eports that link protease activity to the regulation of plant cell death, and along with that there is increasing evidence that a caspase-like activity can be found in dying plant cells. Metacaspases has been suggested to be the best candidate for this rol e, but the functional characterization of the metacaspases is still in the early stages and at the present it is even not clear whether some or all of these proteins posses protease activity. The research objective is to achieve a complete characterization of the protease activity of one of the Arabidopsis metacaspases type II (Atmc9) in order to define the substrate specificity of these enzymes. This knowledge will lead to the identification of the substrate cleaved by metacaspases and eventually indicate which are the pathways that are involved.
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