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Biochem J. Apr 1, 1976; 155(1): 117–125.
PMCID: PMC1172808

Interaction of human cathepsin D with the inhibitor pepstatin.


1. Because of the proposed role of cathepsin D in a variety of biological and pathological processes, the characteristics of inhibition by the potentially useful agent, pepstatin, were determined. 2. The beta and gamma forms of human cathepsin D, separated by isoelectric focusing, have identical specific extinction coefficients and specific activity in the degradation of haemoglobin. 3. Cathepsin D showed tight binding of 1 mol of pepstatin per 43000 g of protein, indicating that titration with the inhibitor represents a useful method for determination of absolute concentrations of the enzyme. 4. The titration curves were used to determine apparent dissociation constants (KD) for the binding of pepstatin and pepstatin methyl ester at pH3.5; values of approx. 5 X 10(-10)M were obtained. 5. Pepstatinyl-[3H]glycine was synthesized and shown to have a KD similar to that of pepstatin. Gel-chromatographic experiments showed that the binding of pepstatin and its derivatives is strongly pH-dependent. 6. The effect of pH on the KD for pepstatinyl-glycine was determined by equilibrium dialysis. As the pH was raised from 5.0 to 6.4, KD rose from 5 X 10(-10)M to 2 X 10(-6)M. 7. The catalytic activity of cathepsin D declines essentially to zero on going from pH5.0 to pH7.0, and we suggest that the binding site for substrate and pepstatin is abolished by a conformational change in the enzyme molecule. 8. The data indicate that, in biological experiments near neutral pH, large molar excesses of pepstatin over cathepsin D will be required for efficient inhibition.

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Selected References

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