Human bleomycin hydrolase: molecular cloning, sequencing, functional expression, and enzymatic characterization

Biochemistry. 1996 May 28;35(21):6706-14. doi: 10.1021/bi960092y.


We have cloned the cDNA of human bleomycin hydrolase (hBH), a protease which is thought to be involved in the metabolic inactivation of the antineoplastic drug bleomycin. The open reading frame consists of 1365 base pairs and is predicted to encode a 52 kDa protein. The protein shares 40% identity with yeast bleomycin hydrolase and contains the conserved active site residues (Cys, His, Asn) characteristic for cysteine proteases of the papain superfamily. Human bleomycin hydrolase has been functionally expressed in Spodoptera frugiperda Sf9 cells using the Autographa californica nuclear polyhedrosis virus. The 52 kDa recombinant protein forms a hexamer of 310 kDa and acts strictly as an aminopeptidase with a broad substrate specificity. The lack of a leader sequence and its pH optimum at 7.2 suggest a cytosolic/nuclear localization. Human bleomycin hydrolase was detected at low to moderate expression levels in most of the human organs tested. Significantly higher RNA levels have been observed in a variety of tumor cell lines. The human enzyme effectively degrades both forms of bleomycin (A2 and B2) in vitro and could indeed be responsible for the resistance of various tumors to this widely used anticancer drug.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Asparagine
  • Base Sequence
  • Bleomycin / therapeutic use
  • Cell Line
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Cysteine
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / biosynthesis
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / chemistry*
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / metabolism*
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Gene Expression
  • Histidine
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Weight
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Spodoptera
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Transfection


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Bleomycin
  • Histidine
  • Asparagine
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • bleomycin hydrolase
  • Cysteine