Cathepsin D: A protease involved in breast cancer metastasis
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- Rochefort, H., Capony, F. & Garcia, M. Cancer Metast Rev (1990) 9: 321. doi:10.1007/BF00049522
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Cathepsin D is an acidic lysosomal protease present in all cells. In estrogen receptor positive and negative breast cancer cell lines, the mRNA coding for pro-cathepsin D is overexpressed and sorting and maturation of the pro-enzyme are altered, via possibly saturation of the Man-6-P/IGF-II receptor, leading to accumulation of the active proteinase in large endosomes and to secretion of the precursor (52K protein). In MCF7 cells, the cathepsin D mRNA is induced directly and transcriptionally by estrogens and indirectly by growth factors. In patients, there is a significant correlation between high cathepsin D concentrations in the cytosol of primary breast cancer and development of metastasis. This marker is independent of other prognostic factors and appears to be particularly useful in axillary node-negative tumors. Transfection of a human cDNA cathepsin D expression vector under the control of SV40 promoter increases the metastatic potential of 3YA1-Ad12 rat tumorigenic cells when intravenously injected into nude mice. The mechanism of cathepsin D-induced metastasis is currently unknown. These results indicate that overexpression of cathepsin D might facilitate breast cancer metastasis, suggesting new possible therapeutic approaches.