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Biochemistry. 2000 Jan 25;39(3):529-36.

Collagenolytic activity of cathepsin K is specifically modulated by cartilage-resident chondroitin sulfates.

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Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Department of Human Genetics, Box 1498, Fifth Avenue at 100 Street, New York, New York 10029, USA.


Cathepsin K is the predominant cysteine protease in osteoclast-mediated bone remodeling, and the protease is thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of diseases with excessive bone and cartilage resorption. Osteoclastic matrix degradation occurs in the extracellular resorption lacuna and upon phagocytosis within the cell's lysosomal-endosomal compartment. Since glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are abundant in extracellular matrixes of cartilage and growing bone, we have analyzed the effect of GAGs on the activity of bone and cartilage-resident cathepsins K and L and MMP-1. GAGs, in particular chondroitin sulfates, specifically and selectively increased the stability of cathepsin K but had no effect on cathepsin L and MMP-1. GAGs strongly enhanced the stability and, to a lesser extent, the catalytic activity of cathepsin K. To combine the activity and stability parameters, we defined a novel kinetic term, named cumulative activity (CA), which reflects the total substrate turnover during the life span of the enzyme. In the presence of chondroitin-4-sulfate (C-4S), the CA value increased 200-fold for cathepsin K but only 25-fold with chondroitin-6-sulfate (C-6S). C-4S dramatically increased the hydrolysis of soluble as well insoluble type I and II collagens, whereas the effects of C-6S and hyaluronic acid were less pronounced. C-4S acts in a concentration-dependent manner but reaches saturation at approximately 0.1%, a concentration similar to that found in the synovial fluid of arthritis patients. C-4S increased the cathepsin K-mediated release of hydroxyproline from insoluble type I collagen 10-fold but had only a less than 2-fold enhancing effect on the hydrolysis of intact cartilage. The relatively small increase in the hydrolysis of cartilage by C-4S was attributed to the endogenous chondroitin sulfate content present in the cartilage. Although C-4S increased the pH stability at neutral pH, a significant increase in the collagenolytic activity of cathepsin K at this pH was not observed, thus suggesting that the unique collagenolytic activity of cathepsin K at acidic pH is mechanistically determined and not by the enzyme's instability at neutral pH. The selective and significant stabilization and activation of cathepsin K activity by C-4S may provide a rationale for a novel mechanism to regulate the enzyme's activity during bone growth and aging, two processes known for significant changes in the GAG content.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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