Biochemical properties of the monomeric mutant of human cathepsin E expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells: Comparison with dimeric forms of the natural and recombinant cathepsin E

Takayuki Tsukuba, Hideaki Sakai, Masayuki Yamada, Hidefumi Maeda, Hitoshi Hori, Takeshi Azuma, Akifumi Akamine, Kenji Yamamoto

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Cathepsin E (CE) is the only known aspartic proteinase that exists as a homodimer consisting of two fully catalytically active monomers, which are covalently bound by a disulfide bond between two cysteine residues at the NH2-terminal region (Cys43 in human pro-CE). To understand the physiological significance of the dimer formation, the monomeric mutant of human CE was constructed by site-directed mutagenesis (Cys43 → Ser43) and expressed in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. Immunolocalization of the mutant protein at both the light and electron microscopic levels revealed the monomeric CE to be associated predominantly with the endoplasmic reticulum and the non-lysosomal endocytic organelles. The cellular localization of the monomeric protein was compatible with that of the wild-type (dimeric form) of recombinant human CE expressed in the same cells. The monomeric protein was generated primarily as the 46-kDa pro-CE with a high-mannose-type oligosaccharide chain in the cells. In addition to the maximal activation at around pH 3.5, a substantial proportion of the monomeric pro-CE was converted to the mature form by incubation at pH 7 and 37°C for 5 min. In contrast, the dimeric pro-CE was scarcely activated by treatment at pH 7. Although catalytic properties of the in vitro-activated monomeric CE appeared to be indistinguishable from those of the dimeric forms of natural and recombinant CE, the monomeric form was more unstable to pH and temperature changes than these dimeric forms. These results indicate that the dimerization of CE is not necessarily required for proper folding to express activity, correct intracellular localization and carbohydrate modification, but that it may be essential to structurally stabilize the molecule in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-134
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of biochemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1996


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology

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