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Protein Sci. 1996 May; 5(5): 836–851.
PMCID: PMC2143410

Structural investigation of the alpha-1-antichymotrypsin: prostate-specific antigen complex by comparative model building.


Prostate-specific antigen (PSA), produced by prostate cells, provides an excellent serum marker for prostate cancer. It belongs to the human kallikrein family of enzymes, a second prostate-derived member of which is human glandular kallikrein-1 (hK2). Active PSA and hK2 are both 237-residue kallikrein-like proteases, based on sequence homology. An hK2 model structure based on the serine protease fold is presented and compared to PSA and six other serine proteases in order to analyze in depth the role of the surface-accessible loops surrounding the active site. The results show that PSA and hK2 share extensive structural similarity and that most amino acid replacements are centered on the loops surrounding the active site. Furthermore, the electrostatic potential surfaces are very similar for PSA and hK2. PSA interacts with at least two serine protease inhibitors (serpins): alpha-1-antichymotrypsin (ACT) and protein C inhibitor (PCI). Three-dimensional model structures of the uncleaved ACT molecule were developed based upon the recent X-ray structure of uncleaved antithrombin. The serpin was docked both to PSA and hK2. Amino acid replacements and electrostatic complementarities indicate that the overall orientation of the proteins in these complexes is reasonable. In order to investigate PSA's heparin interaction sites, electrostatic computations were carried out on PSA, hK2, protein C, ACT, and PCI. Two heparin binding sites are suggested on the PSA surface and could explain the enhanced complex formation between PSA and PCI, while inhibiting the formation of the ACT-PSA complex, PSA, hK2, and their preliminary complexes with ACT should facilitate the understanding and prediction of structural and functional properties for these important proteins also with respect to prostate diseases.

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