Caspases are divided into two classes: initiator caspases, which include caspase-8 and -9 and possess long prodomains, and effector caspases, which include caspase-3 and -7 and possess short prodomains. Recently, we demonstrated that glucocorticoid modulatory element-binding protein 1 (GMEB1) interacts with the prodomain of procaspase-2, thereby disrupting its autoactivation and the induction of apoptosis. Here we show that GMEB1 is also capable of binding to procaspase-8 and -9. GMEB1 attenuated the Fas-mediated activation of these caspases and the subsequent apoptosis. The knockdown of endogenous GMEB1 using RNA interference revealed that cells with decreased GMEB1 expression are more sensitive to stress and undergo accelerated apoptosis. Transgenic mice expressing a neurospecific GMEB1 had smaller cerebral infarcts and less brain swelling than wild-type mice in response to transient focal ischemia. These results suggest that GMEB1 is an endogenous regulator that selectively binds to initiator procaspases and inhibits caspase-induced apoptosis.
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