Biochemical properties and regulation of cathepsin K activity

Fabien Lecaille, Dieter Brömme, Gilles Lalmanach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


Cysteine cathepsins (11 in humans) are mostly located in the acidic compartments of cells. They have been known for decades to be involved in intracellular protein degradation as housekeeping proteases. However, the discovery of new cathepsins, including cathepsins K, V and F, has provided strong evidence that they also participate in specific biological events. This review focuses on the current knowledge of cathepsin K, the major bone cysteine protease, which is a drug target of clinical interest. Nevertheless, we will not discuss recent developments in cathepsin K inhibitor design since they have been extensively detailed elsewhere. We will cover features of cathepsin K structure, cellular and tissue distribution, substrate specificity, and regulation (pH, propeptide, glycosaminoglycans, oxidants), and its putative roles in physiological or pathophysiological processes. Finally, we will review the kinetic data of its inhibition by natural endogenous inhibitors (stefin B, cystatin C, H- and L-kininogens).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-226
Number of pages19
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Cystatin
  • Cysteine cathepsin
  • Cysteine protease
  • Kininogen
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stefin
  • Substrate specificity


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