Cathepsin k: A novel diagnostic and predictive biomarker for renal tumors

Academic Article


  • Cathepsin K is a papain-like cysteine protease with high matrix-degrading activity. Among several cathepsins, cathepsin K is the most potent mammalian collagenase, mainly expressed by os-teoclasts. This review summarizes most of the recent findings of cathepsin K expression, highlighting its role in renal tumors for diagnostic purposes and as a potential molecular target. Indeed, cathepsin K is a recognized diagnostic tool for the identification of TFE3/TFEB-rearranged renal cell carcinoma, TFEB-amplified renal cell carcinoma, and pure epithelioid PEComa/epithelioid angiomyolipoma. More recently, its expression has been observed in a subgroup of eosinophilic renal neoplasms molecularly characterized by TSC/mTOR gene mutations. Interestingly, both TSC mutations or TFE3 rearrangement have been reported in pure epithelioid PEComa/epithelioid angiomyolipoma. Therefore, cathepsin K seems to be a downstream marker of TFE3/TFEB rearrangement, TFEB amplification, and mTOR pathway activation. Given the established role of mTOR inhibitors as a pharmacological option in renal cancers, cathepsin K could be of use as a predictive marker of therapy response and as a potential target. In the future, uropathologists may implement the use of cathepsin K to establish a diagnosis among renal tumors with clear cells, papillary architecture, and oncocytic features.
  • Published In

  • Cancers  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 7323513
  • Author List

  • CaliĆ² A; Brunelli M; Gobbo S; Argani P; Munari E; Netto G; Martignoni G
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 10