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Int J Cancer. 2001 Nov;94(4):558-63.

Human kallikrein 2 (hK2), but not prostate-specific antigen (PSA), rapidly complexes with protease inhibitor 6 (PI-6) released from prostate carcinoma cells.

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Hybritech Inc., San Diego, CA, USA.


Human kallikrein 2 (hK2) is a secreted, trypsin-like protease that shares 80% amino acid sequence identity with prostate-specific antigen (PSA). hK2 has been shown to be a serum marker for prostate cancer and may also play a role in cancer progression and metastasis. We have previously identified a novel complex between human kallikrein 2 (hK2) and protease inhibitor 6 (PI-6) in prostate cancer tissue. PI-6 is an intracellular serine protease inhibitor with both antitrypsin and antichymotrypsin activity. In the current study we have shown that PI-6 forms a rapid in vitro complex with hK2 but does not complex with PSA. Recombinant mammalian cells expressing both hK2 and PI-6 showed hK2-PI-6 complex in the spent media only after cell death and lysis. Similarly, LNCaP cells expressing endogenous hK2 and PI-6 showed extracellular hK2-PI-6 complex formation concurrently with cell death. Immunostaining of prostate cancer tissues with PI-6 monoclonal antibodies showed a marked preferential staining pattern in cancerous epithelial cells compared with noncancerous tissue. These results indicate that the hK2-PI-6 complex may be a naturally occurring marker of tissue damage and necrosis associated with neoplasia. Both hK2 and PI-6 were shed into the lumen of prostate cancer glands as granular material that appeared to be cellular necrotic debris. The differential staining pattern of PI6 in tissues suggests a complex regulation of PI-6 expression that may play a role in other aspects of neoplastic progression.

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