Host Cell Proteases: Cathepsins

  • Klaudia BrixEmail author


Cathepsins are proteolytic enzymes with a broad spectrum of substrates. They are known to reside within endo-lysosomes where they acquire optimal conditions for proteolytic activity and substrate cleavage. However, cathepsins have been detected in locations other than the canonical compartments of the endocytotic pathway. They are often secreted from cells in either proteolytically inactive proform or as mature and active enzyme; this may happen in both physiological and pathological conditions. Moreover, cytosolic and nuclear forms of cathepsins have been described and are currently an emerging field of research aiming at understanding their functions in such unexpected cellular locations. This chapter summarizes the canonical pathways of biosynthesis and transport of cathepsins in healthy cells. We further describe how cathepsins can reach unexpected locations such as the extracellular space or the cytosol and the nuclear matrix. No matter where viruses and cathepsins encounter, several outcomes can be perceived. Thus, scenarios are discussed on how cathepsins may support virus entry into host cells, involve in viral fusion factor and polyprotein processing in different host cell compartments, or help in packaging of viral particles during maturation. It is of note to mention that this review is not meant to comprehensively cover the present literature on viruses encountering cathepsins but rather illustrates, on some representative examples, the possible roles of cathepsins in replication of viruses and in the course of disease.


Aspartic cathepsins Cysteine cathepsins Serine cathepsins Nuclear cathepsins Trafficking Activity-based probes Green fluorescent protein Substrate cleavage Protease inhibition 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Life Sciences and ChemistryJacobs University BremenBremenGermany

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