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Eur J Biochem. 1997 Dec 15;250(3):745-50.

The inhibition of cathepsin S by its propeptide--specificity and mechanism of action.

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Institut für Biochemie I, Klinikum der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena, Germany.


The interaction of human recombinant full-length cathepsin S propeptide (amino acids 16-114) with mature cysteine proteinases was studied with respect to selectivity and pH dependence. The inhibitory capacity was tested towards mature human recombinant cathepsin S, purified cathepsin L from rat and Paramecium tetraurelia, rat cathepsin B, human cathepsin H, and papain. The propeptide of cathepsin S strongly inhibited cathepsin S (Ki = 0.27 nM) and the two cathepsin L species (Ki = 0.36 nM) at neutral pH. Papain, and to a minor extent cathepsin H, hydrolyzed the propeptide of cathepsin S, leading to competition with the hydrolysis of the fluorogenic substrates in the respective assays. Cathepsin B activity was nearly unaffected up to micromolar propeptide concentrations in the assay. The inhibition of cathepsin-L-like peptidases was diminished with decreasing pH, probably due to dramatic changes in the conformation of the propeptide. This assumption was supported by far-ultraviolet CD spectroscopy and by the finding of rapid hydrolysis of the cathepsin S propeptide by cathepsin L at pH values less than 5.5.

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