Cathepsin D (CD) and cathepsin E are representative lysosomal and nonlysosomal aspartic proteinases, respectively, and play an important role in the degradation of proteins, the generation of bioactive proteins, antigen processing, etc. Recenty, several lines of evidence have suggested the involvement of these two enzymes in the execution of neuronal death pathways induced by aging, transient forebrain ischemia, and excessive stimulation of glutamate receptors with excitotoxins. CD has also been shown to mediate apoptosis induced by various stimuli and p53-dependent tumor suppression. To gain more insight into in vivo functions of CD, mice deficient in this enzyme were generated. The mutant animals showed a progressive atrophy of the intestinal mucosa, a massive destruction of lymphoid organs, and a profound accumulation of ceroid lipofuscin, and developed a phenotype resembling neuronal ceroid lipofucinosis, suggesting that CD is essential for proteolysis of proteins regulating cell growth and tissue homeostasis. It has also been shown that CD molecules secreted from human prostate carcinoma cells are responsible for the generation of angiostatin, a potent endogenous inhibitor of angiogenesis, suggesting its contribution to the prevention of tumor growth and angiogenesis-dependent growth of metastases. Interestingly, pro-CD from human breast carcinoma cells showed a significantly lower angiostatin-generating activity than that from prostate carcinoma cells. Since deglycosylated CD molecules from both carcinoma cells showed a low angiostatin-generating activity, this discrepancy appeared to be attributed to the difference in the carbohydrate structures of CD molecules between the two cell types and to contribute to their potency to prevent tumor growth and metastases.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology