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Blood. 2000 Sep 1;96(5):1969-78.

Pathologic gene expression in Gaucher disease: up-regulation of cysteine proteinases including osteoclastic cathepsin K.

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Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, England.


Deficiency of lysosomal acid beta-glucosidase induces glycolipid storage in the macrophages of Gaucher disease but the pathways of multisystem tissue injury and destruction are unknown. To investigate the cognate molecular pathology of this inflammatory disorder, genes that were differentially expressed in spleen samples from a patient with Gaucher disease (Gaucher spleen) were isolated. Of 64 complementary DNA (cDNA) fragments sequenced from an enriched Gaucher cDNA library, 5 encode lysosomal proteins (cathepsins B, K, and S, alpha-fucosidase, and acid lipase), 10 encode other known proteins, and 2 represent novel sequences from human macrophage cell lines. Transcript abundance of the cathepsins, novel genes, pulmonary and activation-regulated chemokine (PARC), and NMB, a putative tumor suppressor gene, was greatly increased. Immunoblotting showed increased mature forms of all 3 cathepsins found in samples of Gaucher spleens. Immunofluorescence microscopy showed strong cathepsin B and K reactions in sinusoidal endothelium and Gaucher cells. The respective means, plus or minus SD, of cathepsin B, K, and S activities were 183 +/- 35, 97 +/- 39, and 91 +/- 45 nmol/min/mg protein in 4 Gaucher spleens, and 26 +/- 4, 10.5 +/- 2, and 4.0 +/- 2.1 nmol/min/mg protein in 3 control spleens. Plasma cathepsin B, K, and S activities were also elevated in Gaucher disease plasma (P <.001), but compared with control plasma samples, neither cathepsin B nor K activities were significantly elevated in 8 patients with nonglycosphingolipid lysosomal storage diseases or in 9 patients with other glycosphingolipidoses, which suggests disease specificity. All 3 cathepsin activities were increased 2-fold to 3-fold in Gaucher sera compared with control sera. In all 6 patients treated by enzyme replacement for 16-22 months, serum cathepsin activities decreased significantly (P <.01). Longitudinal studies confirmed the progressive reduction of proteinase activities during imiglucerase therapy but in 3 Gaucher patients with mild disease not so treated, serum cathepsin activities remained constant or increased during follow-up. Enhanced expression of cysteine proteinases may promote tissue destruction. Moreover, the first identification of aberrant cathepsin K expression in hematopoietic tissue other than osteoclasts implicates this protease in the breakdown of the matrix that characterizes lytic bone lesions in Gaucher disease. (Blood. 2000;96:1969-1978)

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