UNIT 21.21 Microplate Assay For Cathepsin Detection in Viable Cells Using Derivatives of 4-Methoxy-β-Naphthylamide

  1. Anke Ruettger1,2,
  2. Bernd Wiederanders1

Published Online: 1 AUG 2007

DOI: 10.1002/0471140864.ps2121s49

Current Protocols in Protein Science

Current Protocols in Protein Science

How to Cite

Ruettger, A. and Wiederanders, B. 2007. Microplate Assay For Cathepsin Detection in Viable Cells Using Derivatives of 4-Methoxy-β-Naphthylamide. Current Protocols in Protein Science. 49:21.21:21.21.1–21.21.8.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Institute of Biochemistry I, Universitätsklinikum, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany

  2. 2

    Orthopedical Research Unit Eisenberg, Universitätsklinikum, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 AUG 2007
  2. Published Print: AUG 2007


This unit describes an assay for the direct and selective detection of the four cathepsins B, H, K, and L in adherently growing cells. Cells are incubated with substrates that are peptidic derivatives of 4-methoxy-β-naphthylamine partially selective for each cathepsin, together with 5-nitrosalicylaldehyde. The protease reaction is performed in microtiter plates and the fluorescent hydrolysis products are detected using a plate reader. The selectivity of detection is enhanced by parallel assays containing inhibitors that are also partially selective for each of the cathepsins. Individual cathepsin activities can then be calculated by the difference between the uninhibited and the inhibited assays. Detection of cathepsin H activity differs from the other assays in that other nonlysosomal aminopeptidases are inhibited by bestatin. The most common application of these assays is to compare directly cells treated with different substances, e.g., pharmaceutically interesting cathepsin inhibitors. Curr. Protoc. Protein Sci. 49:21.21.1-21.21.8. © 2007 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • in vivo cathepsin assay;
  • live cells;
  • selectivity;
  • microplate assay