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Free Radic Biol Med. 2013 Dec;65:1473-86. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2013.07.020. Epub 2013 Jul 25.

Autophagy induced by cathepsin S inhibition induces early ROS production, oxidative DNA damage, and cell death via xanthine oxidase.

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  • 1National Institute of Cancer Research, National Health Research Institutes, Tainan, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Cathepsin S plays multiple roles in MHC class II antigen presentation, extracellular matrix degradation, angiogenesis, and tumorogenesis. Our previous study revealed that targeting cathepsin S could induce cellular cytotoxicity and reduce cell viability. For the current study, we further investigated the molecular mechanism responsible for targeting cathepsin S-induced cell death and its association with autophagy. Distinct from regulation of the classic autophagy pathway by reactive oxygen species (ROS), we demonstrated that autophagy is the genuine regulator of early ROS production. The molecular silencing of autophagy-dependent ATG genes (ATG5, ATG7, and LC3) and the pharmacologic inhibition of autophagy with 3-MA and wortmannin reduced ROS production significantly. In addition, xanthine oxidase (XO), which is upregulated by autophagy, is required for early ROS production, oxidative DNA damage, and consequent cell death. Autophagy inhibition suppresses the upregulation of XO, which is induced by cathepsin S inhibition, resulting in reduced ROS generation, DNA damage, and cell death. Collectively, our study reveals a noncanonical molecular pathway in which, after the inhibition of cathepsin S, autophagy induces early ROS production for oxidative DNA damage and cell death through XO.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


2′,7′-dichlorofluorescein diacetate; 3-MA; 3-methyladenine; AVOs; Acidic vesicular organelles; Autophagy; BAF; Bafilomycin A1; CQ; Cathepsin S; Chloroquine; DCFH-DA; DHR; DNA damage; Dihydroethidium; Dihydrorhodamine; Early ROS; HE; LTR; LysoTracker Red; N-acetyl-l-cysteine; NAC; ROS; Reactive oxygen species; V-ATPase; Vacuolar-type H(+)-ATPase; XO; Xanthine oxidase

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