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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Jul 7;1446(1-2):35-46.

Cathepsin expression during skeletal development.

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Skeletal Research Program, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Turku, Kiinamyllynkatu 10, FIN-20520, Turku, Finland.


Cysteine proteinases, cathepsins B, H, K, L and S, have been implicated in several proteolytic processes during development, growth, remodeling and aging, as well as in a variety of pathological processes. For systematic analysis of cathepsin gene expression we have produced cDNA clones for mouse and human cysteine cathepsins. Northern analysis of a panel of total RNAs isolated from 16-19 different human and mouse tissues revealed the presence of mRNAs for cathepsin B, H, K, L and S in most tissues, but each with a distinct profile. Of the different cathepsin mRNAs, those for cathepsin K were clearly the highest in bone and cartilage. However, relatively high mRNA levels for the other cathepsins were also present in these tissues. To better understand the roles of different cathepsins during endochondral ossification in mouse long bones, cathepsin mRNAs were localized by in situ hybridization. Cathepsin K mRNAs were predominantly seen in multinucleated chondroclastic and osteoclastic cells at the osteochondral junction and on the surface of bone spicules. The other cathepsin mRNAs were also seen in osteoclasts, and in hypertrophic and proliferating chondrocytes. These observations were confirmed by immunohistochemistry and suggest that all cysteine cathepsins are involved in matrix degradation during endochondral ossification.

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