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J Biol Chem. 1991 Aug 5;266(22):14754-62.

Human lysosomal protective protein has cathepsin A-like activity distinct from its protective function.

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Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


The protective protein was first discovered because of its deficiency in the metabolic storage disorder galactosialidosis. It associates with lysosomal beta-galactosidase and neuraminidase, toward which it exerts a protective function necessary for their stability and activity. Human and mouse protective proteins are homologous to yeast and plant serine carboxypeptidases. Here, we provide evidence that this protein has enzymatic activity similar to that of lysosomal cathepsin A: 1) overexpression of human and mouse protective proteins in COS-1 cells induces a 3-4-fold increase of cathepsin A-like activity; 2) this activity is reduced to approximately 1% in three galactosialidosis patients with different clinical phenotypes; 3) monospecific antibodies raised against human protective protein precipitate virtually all cathepsin A-like activity in normal human fibroblast extracts. Mutagenesis of the serine and histidine active site residues abolishes the enzymatic activity of the respective mutant protective proteins. These mutants, however, behave as the wild-type protein with regard to intracellular routing, processing, and secretion. In contrast, modification of the very conserved Cys60 residue interferes with the correct folding of the precursor polypeptide and, hence, its intracellular transport and processing. The secreted active site mutant precursors, endocytosed by galactosialidosis fibroblasts, restore beta-galactosidase and neuraminidase activities as effectively as wild-type protective protein. These findings indicate that the catalytic activity and protective function of the protective protein are distinct.

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