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HTRA1 gene

HtrA serine peptidase 1

Normal Function

The HTRA1 gene provides instructions for making a protein that is found in many of the body's organs and tissues. This protein is a type of enzyme called a serine protease, which has an active center that cuts (cleaves) other proteins into smaller pieces. The HTRA1 enzyme helps break down many other kinds of proteins in the space surrounding cells (the extracellular matrix).

The HTRA1 enzyme also attaches (binds) to proteins in the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) family and slows down (inhibits) their ability to send chemical signals. TGF-β proteins normally help control many critical cell functions, including the growth and division (proliferation) of cells, the process by which cells mature to carry out specific functions (differentiation), cell movement (motility), and the self-destruction of cells (apoptosis). TGF-β signaling also plays an important role in the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis).

Researchers have proposed several additional functions for the HTRA1 enzyme. It may play a role in the stabilization of microtubules, which are rigid, hollow fibers that make up the cell's structural framework (cytoskeleton). Additionally, the HTRA1 enzyme may be involved in depositing minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, in developing bone (mineralization). Studies have also suggested that the HTRA1 enzyme acts as a tumor suppressor, a protein that helps prevent the development of cancerous tumors by keeping cells from growing and dividing in an uncontrolled way.

Health Conditions Related to Genetic Changes

Cerebral autosomal recessive arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy

At least four mutations in the HTRA1 gene have been found to cause cerebral autosomal recessive arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy, commonly known as CARASIL. This condition is characterized by a highly increased risk of stroke, deterioration of cognitive function (dementia), premature hair loss (alopecia), and attacks of low back pain. These signs and symptoms usually become apparent in early to mid-adulthood.

The HTRA1 gene mutations responsible for CARASIL reduce or eliminate the function of the HTRA1 enzyme. As a result, the enzyme is not available to inhibit signaling by TGF-β proteins. Researchers suspect that abnormally increased TGF-β signaling alters the structure of small blood vessels, particularly in the brain. These blood vessel abnormalities increase the risk of stroke and lead to the death of nerve cells (neurons) in many areas of the brain. Dysregulation of TGF-β signaling may also underlie the hair loss and back pain seen in people with CARASIL, although the relationship between abnormal TGF-β signaling and these features is less clear.

More About This Health Condition

Age-related macular degeneration

The HTRA1 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 10 in a region known as 10q26. This region has been strongly associated with the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of vision loss in older adults. Researchers have identified several variations (polymorphisms) in the HTRA1 gene that may explain the association between the 10q26 region and age-related macular degeneration. One of the variants, known as rs11200638, is found in an area of the gene called the promoter region, which starts the production of the HTRA1 enzyme.

It is unclear how a polymorphism in the HTRA1 gene might be related to age-related macular degeneration. In the 10q26 region, the HTRA1 gene is located next to a gene called ARMS2; changes in this gene have also been studied as a risk factor for the disease. Because the two genes are so close together, it is difficult to tell whether changes in one gene or the other, or possibly changes in both genes, account for the increased disease risk. Age-related macular degeneration is a complex condition that likely results from a combination of multiple genetic and environmental factors.

More About This Health Condition


The HTRA1 gene is less active (downregulated) in some cancerous tumors than in normal cells. Studies have found this gene downregulation in several forms of cancer, including ovarian cancer, cancer that occurs in the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer), a form of skin cancer called melanoma, and a form of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma. Having reduced amounts of the HTRA1 enzyme may be related to tumor progression, the risk that cancer will spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, and resistance to treatment with chemotherapy. However, the mechanism by which downregulation of the HTRA1 gene influences cancer development and growth is unknown.

Other Names for This Gene

  • ARMD7
  • HtrA
  • IGFBP5-protease
  • L56
  • ORF480
  • protease, serine, 11 (IGF binding)
  • PRSS11
  • serine protease HTRA1

Additional Information & Resources

Tests Listed in the Genetic Testing Registry

Scientific Articles on PubMed

Catalog of Genes and Diseases from OMIM

Gene and Variant Databases


  • An E, Sen S, Park SK, Gordish-Dressman H, Hathout Y. Identification of novel substrates for the serine protease HTRA1 in the human RPE secretome. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010 Jul;51(7):3379-86. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-4853. Epub 2010 Mar 5. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Chien J, Ota T, Aletti G, Shridhar R, Boccellino M, Quagliuolo L, Baldi A, Shridhar V. Serine protease HtrA1 associates with microtubules and inhibits cell migration. Mol Cell Biol. 2009 Aug;29(15):4177-87. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00035-09. Epub 2009 May 26. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Dewan A, Liu M, Hartman S, Zhang SS, Liu DT, Zhao C, Tam PO, Chan WM, Lam DS, Snyder M, Barnstable C, Pang CP, Hoh J. HTRA1 promoter polymorphism in wet age-related macular degeneration. Science. 2006 Nov 10;314(5801):989-92. doi: 10.1126/science.1133807. Epub 2006 Oct 19. Citation on PubMed
  • Fukutake T. Cerebral autosomal recessive arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CARASIL): from discovery to gene identification. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2011 Mar-Apr;20(2):85-93. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2010.11.008. Epub 2011 Jan 7. Citation on PubMed
  • Hara K, Shiga A, Fukutake T, Nozaki H, Miyashita A, Yokoseki A, Kawata H, Koyama A, Arima K, Takahashi T, Ikeda M, Shiota H, Tamura M, Shimoe Y, Hirayama M, Arisato T, Yanagawa S, Tanaka A, Nakano I, Ikeda S, Yoshida Y, Yamamoto T, Ikeuchi T, Kuwano R, Nishizawa M, Tsuji S, Onodera O. Association of HTRA1 mutations and familial ischemic cerebral small-vessel disease. N Engl J Med. 2009 Apr 23;360(17):1729-39. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0801560. Citation on PubMed
  • Kanda A, Chen W, Othman M, Branham KE, Brooks M, Khanna R, He S, Lyons R, Abecasis GR, Swaroop A. A variant of mitochondrial protein LOC387715/ARMS2, not HTRA1, is strongly associated with age-related macular degeneration. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Oct 9;104(41):16227-32. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0703933104. Epub 2007 Sep 20. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Shiga A, Nozaki H, Yokoseki A, Nihonmatsu M, Kawata H, Kato T, Koyama A, Arima K, Ikeda M, Katada S, Toyoshima Y, Takahashi H, Tanaka A, Nakano I, Ikeuchi T, Nishizawa M, Onodera O. Cerebral small-vessel disease protein HTRA1 controls the amount of TGF-beta1 via cleavage of proTGF-beta1. Hum Mol Genet. 2011 May 1;20(9):1800-10. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddr063. Epub 2011 Feb 14. Citation on PubMed
  • Tong Y, Liao J, Zhang Y, Zhou J, Zhang H, Mao M. LOC387715/HTRA1 gene polymorphisms and susceptibility to age-related macular degeneration: A HuGE review and meta-analysis. Mol Vis. 2010 Oct 5;16:1958-81. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Yang Z, Camp NJ, Sun H, Tong Z, Gibbs D, Cameron DJ, Chen H, Zhao Y, Pearson E, Li X, Chien J, Dewan A, Harmon J, Bernstein PS, Shridhar V, Zabriskie NA, Hoh J, Howes K, Zhang K. A variant of the HTRA1 gene increases susceptibility to age-related macular degeneration. Science. 2006 Nov 10;314(5801):992-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1133811. Epub 2006 Oct 19. Citation on PubMed
  • Yang Z, Tong Z, Chen Y, Zeng J, Lu F, Sun X, Zhao C, Wang K, Davey L, Chen H, London N, Muramatsu D, Salasar F, Carmona R, Kasuga D, Wang X, Bedell M, Dixie M, Zhao P, Yang R, Gibbs D, Liu X, Li Y, Li C, Li Y, Campochiaro B, Constantine R, Zack DJ, Campochiaro P, Fu Y, Li DY, Katsanis N, Zhang K. Genetic and functional dissection of HTRA1 and LOC387715 in age-related macular degeneration. PLoS Genet. 2010 Feb 5;6(2):e1000836. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000836. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.