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ADAM17 (where ADAM is 'a disintegrin and metalloproteinase') can rapidly modulate cell-surface signalling events by the proteolytic release of soluble forms of proligands for cellular receptors. Many regulatory pathways affect the ADAM17 sheddase activity, but the mechanisms for the activation are still not clear. We have utilized a cell-based ADAM17 assay to show that thiol isomerases, specifically PDI (protein disulfide isomerase), could be responsible for maintaining ADAM17 in an inactive form. Down-regulation of thiol isomerases, by changes in the redox environment (for instance as elicited by phorbol ester modulation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species) markedly enhanced ADAM17 activation. On the basis of ELISA binding studies with novel fragment antibodies against ADAM17 we propose that isomerization of the disulfide bonds in ADAM17, and the subsequent conformational changes, form the basis for the modulation of ADAM17 activity. The shuffling of disulfide bond patterns in ADAMs has been suggested by a number of recent adamalysin crystal structures, with distinct disulfide bond patterns altering the relative orientations of the domains. Such a mechanism is rapid and reversible, and the role of thiol isomerases should be investigated further as a potential factor in the redox regulation of ADAM17.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem J

Publication Date





439 - 450


ADAM Proteins, ADAM17 Protein, Cell Line, Tumor, Down-Regulation, HeLa Cells, Humans, Protein Disulfide-Isomerases