Helminth pathogen cathepsin proteases: it's a family affair

Mark W Robinson, John P Dalton, Sheila Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Citations (Scopus)


Helminth pathogens express papain-like cysteine peptidases, termed cathepsins, which have important roles in virulence, including host entry, tissue migration and the suppression of host immune responses. The liver fluke Fasciola hepatica, an emerging human pathogen, expresses the largest cathepsin L cysteine protease family yet described. Recent phylogenetic, biochemical and structural studies indicate that this family contains five separate clades, which exhibit overlapping but distinct substrate specificities created by a process of gene duplication followed by subtle residue divergence within the protease active site. The developmentally regulated expression of these proteases correlates with the passage of the parasite through host tissues and its encounters with different host macromolecules.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-8
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Biochemical Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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