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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Abnormal cathepsin B activity in Batten disease.

Fibroblasts cultured from patients with various forms of neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinosis (NCL; Batten disease) showed variably decreasing cathepsin B activity with increasing passage number and months in culture in the presence of fetal calf serum. Cathepsin H activity and that of a wide range of lysosomal hydrolases was unaffected by these conditions. Cathepsin B activity was assayed either colorimetrically (N alpha-benzoyl-DL-Arg-beta-naphthylamide; BANA), fluorimetrically (Z-Arg-Arg-methylcoumarin), or autoradiographically, following NaDodSO4-12.5% polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis ([125]Tyr-Ala-Lys-Arg-CH2Cl) and was found to be lysosomal in localization. Fractionation of disrupted fibroblasts on a Percoll gradient showed evidence of abnormally buoyant lysosomes in some NCL patients, and these tended to be low in cathepsin B but rich in other lysosomal hydrolases. Our data do not support a primary defect in cathepsin B as the basic defect in NCL. However, a possible explanation for various studies implicating a protease defect in NCL is that cathepsin B was highly sensitive to inactivation by peroxides and aldehydes. Thus hydrogen peroxide (0.3 mM) or 4-hydroxynonenal (1 nM) inactivated cathepsin B without inhibiting cathepsin H or lysosomal hydrolases such as alpha-L-fucosidase. Since peroxides and 4-hydroxynonenal have been shown to accumulate in NCL tissue (despite apparently normal peroxidase activity), we tested the possibility of a defect in the removal of peroxidized lipids from phospholipids as the primary defect in NCL. The nociceptive peptide bradykinin (BK) normally initiates a cascade involving receptor-mediated phospholipase C activation and release of arachidonate and prostanoids from cultured skin fibroblasts. Release of [3H]arachidonate by BK was deficient in NCL fibroblasts, suggesting that the primary defect in NCL could involve the deficiency of a specific phospholipase A2 activity.[1]


  1. Abnormal cathepsin B activity in Batten disease. Dawson, G., Glaser, P.T. American journal of medical genetics. Supplement. (1988) [Pubmed]
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