A new nuclear protease with cathepsin L properties is present in HeLa and Caco-2 cells

Marcia Puchi, Jenaro García-Huidobro, Candy Cordova, Rodrigo Aguilar, Estefanie Dufey, Maria Imschenetzky, Paula Bustos, Violeta Morin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Recently many authors have reported that cathepsin L can be found in the nucleus of mammalian cells with important functions in cell-cycle progression. In previous research, we have demonstrated that a cysteine protease (SpH-protease) participates in male chromatin remodeling and in cell-cycle progression in sea urchins embryos. The gene that encodes this protease was cloned. It presents a high identity sequence with cathepsin L family. The active form associated to chromatin has a molecular weight of 60 kDa, which is higher than the active form of cathepsin L described until now, which range between 25 and 35 kDa. Another difference is that the zymogen present in sea urchin has a molecular weight of 75 and 90 kDa whereas for human procathepsin L has a molecular weight of 38-42 kDa. Based on these results and using a polyclonal antibody available in our laboratory that recognizes the active form of the 60 kDa nuclear cysteine protease of sea urchin, ortholog to human cathepsin L, we investigated the presence of this enzyme in HeLa and Caco-2 cells. We have identified a new nuclear protease, type cathepsin L, with a molecular size of 60 kDa, whose cathepsin activity increases after a partial purification by FPLC and degrade in vitro histone H1. This protease associates to the mitotic spindle during mitosis, remains in the nuclei in binuclear cells and also translocates to the cytoplasm in non-proliferative cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1099-1106
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • cell cycle
  • chromatin
  • cystein protease
  • nuclear cathepsin L

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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