Linking osteopetrosis and pycnodysostosis: Regulation of cathepsin K expression by the microphthalmia transcription factor family

G. Motyckova, K. N. Weilbaecher, M. Horstmann, D. J. Rieman, D. Z. Fisher, D. E. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

199 Scopus citations


Various genetic conditions produce dysfunctional osteoclasts resulting in osteopetrosis or osteosclerosis. These include human pycnodysostosis, an autosomal recessive syndrome caused by cathepsin K mutation, cathepsin K-deficient mice, and mitf mutant rodent strains. Cathepsin K is a highly expressed cysteine protease in osteoclasts that plays an essential role in the degradation of protein components of bone matrix. Cathepsin K also is expressed in a significant fraction of human breast cancers where it could contribute to tumor invasiveness. Mitf is a member of a helixloop-helix transcription factor subfamily, which contains the potential dimerization partners TFE3, TFEB, and TFEC. In mice, dominant negative, but not recessive, mutations of mitf, produce osteopetrosis, suggesting a functional requirement for other family members. Mitf also has been found - and TFE3 has been suggested - to modulate age-dependent changes in osteoclast function. This study identifies cathepsin K as a transcriptional target of Mitf and TFE3 via three consensus elements in the cathepsin K promoter. Additionally, cathepsin K mRNA and protein were found to be deficient in mitf mutant osteoclasts, and overexpression of wild-type Mitf dramatically up-regulated expression of endogenous cathepsin K in cultured human osteoclasts. Cathepsin K promoter activity was disrupted by dominant negative, but not recessive, mouse alleles of mitf in a pattern that closely matches their osteopetrotic phenotypes. This relationship between cathepsin K and the Mitf family helps explain the phenotypic overlap of their corresponding deficiencies in pycnodysostosis and osteopetrosis and identifies likely regulators of cathepsin K expression in bone homeostasis and human malignancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5798-5803
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 8 2001


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