Hyperglycaemia, triose phosphate decomposition and oxidation reactions generate reactive aldehydes in vivo. These compounds react non-enzymatically with protein side chains and N-terminal amino groups to give adducts and cross-links, and hence modified proteins. Previous studies have shown that free or protein-bound carbonyls inactivate glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase with concomitant loss of thiol groups [Morgan, Dean and Davies (2002) Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 403, 259-269]. It was therefore hypothesized that modification of lysosomal cysteine proteases (and the structurally related enzyme papain) by free and protein-bound carbonyls may modulate the activity of these components of the cellular proteolytic machinery responsible for the removal of modified proteins and thereby contribute to a decreased removal of modified proteins from cells. It is shown that MGX (methylglyoxal), GO (glyoxal) and glycolaldehyde, but not hydroxyacetone and glucose, inhibit catB (cathepsin B), catL (cathepsin L) and catS (cathepsin S) activity in macrophage cell lysates, in a concentration-dependent manner. Protein-bound carbonyls produced similar inhibition with both cell lysates and intact macrophage cells. Inhibition was also observed with papain, with this paralleled by loss of the active site cysteine residue and formation of the adduct species S-carboxymethylcysteine, from GO, in a concentration-dependent manner. Inhibition of autolysis of papain by MGX, along with cross-link formation, was detected by SDS/PAGE. Treatment of papain and catS with the dialdehyde o-phthalaldehyde resulted in enzyme inactivation and an intramolecular active site cysteine-lysine cross-link. These results demonstrate that reactive aldehydes inhibit cysteine proteases by modification of the active site cysteine residue. This process may contribute to the accumulation of modified proteins in tissues of people with diabetes and age-related pathologies, including atherosclerosis, cataract and Alzheimer's disease.
- Cysteine protease
- Protein glycation