Lysosomal cysteine proteases: more than scavengers

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Mar 7;1477(1-2):98-111. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4838(99)00263-0.


Lysosomal cysteine proteases were believed to be mainly involved in intracellular protein degradation. Under special conditions they have been found outside lysosomes resulting in pathological conditions. With the discovery of a series of new cathepsins with restricted tissue distributions, it has become evident that these enzymes must be involved in a range of specific cellular tasks much broader than as simple housekeeping enzymes. It is therefore timely to review and discuss the various physiological roles of mammalian lysosomal papain-like cysteine proteases as well as their mechanisms of action and the regulation of their activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Binding Sites
  • Cathepsins / chemistry
  • Cathepsins / metabolism
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / chemistry
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Precursors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Precursors / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Lysosomes / enzymology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Pepsin A / chemistry
  • Pepsin A / metabolism
  • Protein Folding
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Enzyme Precursors
  • Cathepsins
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Pepsin A