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Br J Cancer. 2004 Aug 16;91(4):725-31.

Characterisation of human kallikrein 6/protease M expression in ovarian cancer.

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Laboratory of Gynecologic Oncology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Erratum in

  • Br J Cancer. 2005 Mar 14;92(5):983.


Kallikrein 6 (hK6, also known as protease M/zyme/neurosin) is a member of the human kallikrein gene family. We have previously cloned the cDNA for this gene by differential display and shown the overexpression of the mRNA in breast and ovarian primary tumour tissues and cell lines. To thoroughly characterise the expression of this kallikrein in ovarian cancer, we have developed a novel monoclonal antibody specific to hK6 and employed it in immunohistochemistry with a wide range of ovarian tumour samples. The expression was found elevated in 67 of 80 cases of ovarian tumour samples and there was a significant difference in the expression levels between normal and benign ovarian tissues and the borderline and invasive tumours (P<0.001). There was no difference of expression level between different subtypes of tumours. More significantly, high level of kallikrein 6 expression was found in many early-stage and low-grade tumours, and elevated hK6 proteins were found in benign epithelia coexisting with borderline and invasive tissues, suggesting that overexpression of hK6 is an early phenomenon in the development of ovarian cancer. Quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reactions also showed elevated kallikrein 6 mRNA expression in ovarian tumours. Genomic Southern analysis of 19 ovarian tumour samples suggested that gene amplification is one mechanism for the overexpression of hK6 in ovarian cancer.

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