A continuous assay for foot-and-mouth disease virus 3C protease activity

Agnès M. Jaulent, Aodhnait S. Fahy, Stephen R. Knox, James R. Birtley, Núria Roqué-Rosell, Stephen Curry, Robin J. Leatherbarrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Foot-and-mouth disease virus is a highly contagious pathogen that spreads rapidly among livestock and is capable of causing widespread agricultural and economic devastation. The virus genome is translated to produce a single polypeptide chain that subsequently is cleaved by viral proteases into mature protein products, with one protease, 3Cpro, carrying out the majority of the cleavages. The highly conserved nature of this protease across different viral strains and its crucial role in viral maturation and replication make it a very desirable target for inhibitor design. However, the lack of a convenient and high-throughput assay has been a hindrance in the characterization of potential inhibitors. In this article, we report the development of a continuous assay with potential for high throughput using fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based peptide substrates. Several peptide substrates containing the 3C-specific cleavage site were synthesized, varying both the positions and separation of the fluorescent donor and quencher groups. The best substrate, with a specificity constant kcat/KM of 57.6 ± 2.0 M-1 s-1, was used in inhibition assays to further characterize the protease's activity against a range of commercially available inhibitors. The inhibition profile of the enzyme showed characteristics of both cysteine and serine proteases, with the chymotrypsin inhibitor TPCK giving stoichiometric inhibition of the enzyme and allowing active site titration of the 3Cpro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-137
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 15 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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