Angiostatin, a potent endogenous inhibitor of angiogenesis, is generated by cancer-mediated proteolysis of plasminogen. The culture medium of human prostate carcinoma cells, when incubated with plasminogen at a variety of pH values, generated angiostatic peptides and miniplasminogen. The enzyme(s) responsible for this reaction was purified and identified as procathepsin D. The purified procathepsin D, as well as cathepsin D, generated two angiostatic peptides having the same NH2-terminal amino acid sequences and comprising kringles 1-4 of plasminogen in the pH range of 3.0-6.8, most strongly at pH 4.0 in vitro. This reaction required the concomitant conversion of procathepsin D to catalytically active pseudocathepsin D. The conversion of pseudocathepsin D to the mature cathepsin D was not observed by the prolonged incubation. The affinity-purified angiostatic peptides inhibited angiogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, procathepsin D secreted by human breast carcinoma cells showed a significantly lower angiostatin-generating activity than that by human prostate carcinoma cells. Since deglycosylated procathepsin D from both prostate and breast carcinoma cells exhibited a similar low angiostatin-generating activity, this discrepancy appeared to be attributed to the difference in carbohydrate structures of procathepsin D molecules between the two cell types. The seminal vesicle fluid from patients with prostate carcinoma contained the mature cathepsin D and procathepsin D, but not pseudocathepsin D, suggesting that pseudocathepsin D is not a normal intermediate of procathepsin D processing in vivo. The present study provides evidence for the first time that cathepsin D secreted by human prostate carcinoma cells is responsible for angiostatin generation, thereby causing the prevention of tumor growth and angiogenesis-dependent growth of metastases.
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