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J Urol. 1998 Jan;159(1):297-303.

Prostate-specific antigen forms complexes with human alpha 2-macroglobulin and binds to the alpha 2-macroglobulin receptor/LDL receptor-related protein.

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Institute of Biochemistry, University of Leipzig, Germany.



To investigate the binding of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) to human alpha 2-macroglobulin (alpha 2-M) and to alpha 1-antichymotrypsin (ACT).


Binding analysis was evaluated by electrophoresis, Western-blotting, enzyme-linked immunosorption assay (ELISA) and size exclusion chromatography. Quantification of PSA and of different forms of alpha 2-M was performed using commercial test kits. The cleavage site of PSA in alpha 2-M was analyzed by SDS-PAGE and microsequencing.


Binding of PSA to alpha 2-M is initiated by the cleavage of the peptide bond between amino acids Tyr 686 and Glu 687 of the bait region indicating a chymotrypsin-like activity of the PSA. The PSA's proteolytic cleavage triggers the transformation of alpha 2-M as detected by conformation-specific monoclonal antibodies. Kinetic analysis revealed faster binding of PSA to alpha 2-M than to ACT. The PSA bound to alpha 2-M is caged by the inhibitor and thus escapes detection by antibodies. This results in an incorrect calculation of the level of PSA when released from prostate into the blood. Complexes of PSA-alpha 2-M and PSA-ACT were found to bind to the alpha 2-macroglobulin receptor/LDL receptor-related protein (alpha 2-M-R/LRP) which may be the clearance receptor for PSA.


Quantifying free PSA and PSA-ACT complexes, as routinely done in managing prostate-associated diseases, does not represent the total secretion capacity of the prostate. The proteinase inhibitor alpha 2-M has to be considered as a main contributor to PSA complex formation in the blood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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