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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1998 Sep;39(10):1789-96.

Isolation and characterization of human cathepsin V: a major proteinase in corneal epithelium.

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  • 1Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology, Osaka University, Suita, Japan.



To isolate and characterize a novel cathepsin gene, as part of the systematic isolation of genes uniquely active in corneal epithelium.


For the isolation of a full-length cDNA clone, a probe was selected from a set of expressed sequence tag clones classified as unique to corneal epithelium. Inserted cDNA was introduced into insect cells using a baculovirus expression system, and the secretion of recombinant protein was identified using antisera against a synthetic peptide. Proteolytic activity was determined using bovine serum albumin (BSA) as substrate. The expressions of the novel cathepsin in human cornea and other tissues were examined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).


The full-length cDNA clone encoded a peptide of 334 amino acids with 82% identity with bovine cathepsin L and 77% identity with human cathepsin L when aligned. The recombinant protein produced in the baculovirus expression system cleaves BSA, and its activity was inhibited by the cysteine proteinase inhibitors E-64 and leupeptin, but not by pepstatin A, phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride, and EDTA. By RT-PCR, a low level of expression was observed in some other epithelial tissues of ectodermal origin, but only in cornea was it higher than cathepsin L, which is known to be a general lysosomal cathepsin. Cathepsin V protein was detected in human corneal epithelium by western blot analysis, but not in tear fluid.


The amino acid homology and proteolytic activity of the recombinant protein indicate that the novel gene is a new member of the cathepsins that have features of cysteine proteinase. Its uniquely high expression in corneal epithelium strongly implies an important role in corneal physiology.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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