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Cysteine cathepsins in human cancer
- Department of Pharmacology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201, USA
- Department of Pharmacology, and Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201, USA
Proteases play causal roles in the malignant progression of human tumors. This review centers on the roles in this process of cysteine cathepsins, i.e., peptidases belonging to the papain family (C1) of the CA clan of cysteine proteases. Cysteine cathepsins, most likely along with matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) and serine proteases, degrade the extracellular matrix, thereby facilitating growth and invasion into surrounding tissue and vasculature. Studies on tumor tissues and cell lines have shown changes in expression, activity and distribution of cysteine cathepsins in numerous human cancers. Molecular, immunologic and pharmacological strategies to modulate expression and activity of cysteine cathepsins have provided evidence for a causal role for these enzymes in tumor progression and invasion. Clinically, the levels, activities and localization of cysteine cathepsins and their endogenous inhibitors have been shown to be of diagnostic and prognostic value. Understanding the roles that cysteine proteases play in cancer could lead to the development of more efficacious therapies.
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