Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Anatomy and Neurobiology

First Advisor

Dr. James W. Geddes


Calpain 5 (CAPN5) is a non-classical member of the calpain family. It lacks the EF-hand motif characteristic of the classical calpains, calpain 1 and 2, but retains catalytic and Ca2+ binding non EF domains. Tra-3, an ortholog of CAPN5, is involved in necrotic cell death in C.elegans; although specific role of CAPN5 has not been investigated in the mammalian CNS. I compared relative mRNA levels of calpains in rat CNS, which revealed that CAPN5 is the second most highly expressed calpain. We examined relative levels of CAPN5 from late embryonic day 18 to postnatal day 90 and found lower mRNA but higher protein levels during CNS development. Using X –gal staining in Capn5 +/- mice, immunostaining of rat brain sections and SH-SY5Y cells, and subcellular fractionation of rat brain cortex, we found that CAPN5 is a non-cytoplasmic calpain localized in the nucleus and enriched in synaptic mitochondria. Proteinase K treatment of mitochondria and mitoplasts from B35 rat neuroblastoma cells and rat synaptic mitochondria revealed CAPN5 was localized on the inner mitochondrial membrane and released from mitochondria on membrane permeabilization with alamethicin. We used immunolabelling, confocal imaging, nuclear subfractionation and transient transfections to evaluate the subnuclear localization of CAPN5. CAPN5 was detected in punctate domains and associated with promyelocytic leukemia (PML) protein, a tumor suppressor protein. We further demonstrated that CAPN5 carries a nonconventional bipartite nuclear localization signal. Together, these findings demonstrate that CAPN5 is a non-cytosolic calpain, abundant in the CNS and localized to the mitochondria inner membrane and nuclear PML bodies.