The protein encoded by this gene is a lysosomalcysteine protease composed of a dimer of disulfide-linked heavy and light chains, both produced from a single protein precursor. It is a member of the peptidase C1 family. At least five transcript variants encoding the same protein have been found for this gene.
Cathepsin B was once suspected as a candidate protease participating in the conversion of β-amyloid precursor protein into the amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer's disease patients. However, this function is now known to be mediated by BACE1 protease. It is now thought that cathepsin B can degrade β-amyloid precursor protein into harmless fragments. Thus, it is conceivable cathepsin B may play a pivotal role in the natural defense against Alzheimer's disease. Overexpression of cathepsin B has been associated with esophageal adenocarcinoma and other tumors.
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^Mai J, Finley RL, Waisman DM, Sloane BF (April 2000). "Human procathepsin B interacts with the annexin II tetramer on the surface of tumor cells". J. Biol. Chem.275 (17): 12806–12. doi:10.1074/jbc.275.17.12806. PMID10777578.
^Estrada S, Nycander M, Hill NJ, Craven CJ, Waltho JP, Björk I (May 1998). "The role of Gly-4 of human cystatin A (stefin A) in the binding of target proteinases. Characterization by kinetic and equilibrium methods of the interactions of cystatin A Gly-4 mutants with papain, cathepsin B, and cathepsin L". Biochemistry37 (20): 7551–60. doi:10.1021/bi980026r. PMID9585570.