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Proteasome inhibitors, such as the dipeptide boronic acid bortezomib, are emerging as important tools in the treatment of the fatal hematologic malignancy multiple myeloma. Despite the recent US Food and Drug Administration approval of bortezomib (PS341, Velcade) for the treatment of refractory multiple myeloma, many of the basic pharmacologic parameters of bortezomib and its mode of action on myeloma cells remain to be determined. We describe the synthesis and use of a cell-permeant active site-directed probe, which allows profiling of proteasomal activities in living cells. When we compared proteasome activity patterns in cultured cells and crude cell extracts with this probe, we observed substantial differences, stressing the importance for bioassays compatible with live cells to ensure accuracy of such measurements. Using this probe, we investigated the in vivo subunit specificities of bortezomib and another inhibitor, MG132.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Methods

Publication Date





357 - 362


Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, Boronic Acids, Bortezomib, Cell Line, Tumor, Humans, Leupeptins, Mice, Multiple Myeloma, Protease Inhibitors, Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex, Pyrazines