The new human kallikrein gene family: implications in carcinogenesis

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Mar;11(2):54-60. doi: 10.1016/s1043-2760(99)00225-8.


The traditional human kallikrein gene family consists of three genes, namely KLK1 [encoding human kallikrein 1 (hK1) or pancreatic/renal kallikrein], KLK2 (encoding hK2, previously known as human glandular kallikrein 1) and KLK3 [encoding hK3 or prostate-specific antigen (PSA)]. KLK2 and KLK3 have important applications in prostate cancer diagnostics and, more recently, in breast cancer diagnostics. During the past two to three years, new putative members of the human kallikrein gene family have been identified, including the PRSSL1 gene [encoding normal epithelial cell-specific 1 gene (NES1)], the gene encoding zyme/protease M/neurosin, the gene encoding prostase/KLK-L1, and the genes encoding neuropsin, stratum corneum chymotryptic enzyme and trypsin-like serine protease. Another five putative kallikrein genes, provisionally named KLK-L2, KLK-L3, KLK-L4, KLK-L5 and KLK-L6, have also been identified. Many of the newly identified kallikrein-like genes are regulated by steroid hormones, and a few kallikreins (NES1, protease M, PSA) are known to be downregulated in breast and possibly other cancers. NES1 appears to be a novel breast cancer tumor suppressor protein and PSA a potent inhibitor of angiogenesis. This brief review summarizes recent developments and possible applications of the newly defined and expanded human kallikrein gene locus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Humans
  • Kallikreins / genetics*
  • Multigene Family*
  • Neoplasms / genetics


  • Kallikreins