The new human tissue kallikrein gene family: structure, function, and association to disease

Endocr Rev. 2001 Apr;22(2):184-204. doi: 10.1210/edrv.22.2.0424.


The human tissue kallikrein gene family was, until recently, thought to consist of only three genes. Two of these human kallikreins, prostate-specific antigen and human glandular kallikrein 2, are currently used as valuable biomarkers of prostatic carcinoma. More recently, new kallikrein-like genes have been discovered. It is now clear that the human tissue kallikrein gene family contains at least 15 genes. All genes share important similarities, including mapping at the same chromosomal locus (19q13.4), significant homology at both the nucleotide and protein level, and similar genomic organization. All genes encode for putative serine proteases and most of them are regulated by steroid hormones. Recent data suggest that at least a few of these kallikrein genes are connected to malignancy. In this review, we summarize the recently accumulated knowledge on the human tissue kallikrein gene family, including gene and protein structure, predicted enzymatic activities, tissue expression, hormonal regulation, and alternative splicing. We further describe the reported associations of the human kallikreins with various human diseases and identify future avenues for research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Tissue Kallikreins / classification
  • Tissue Kallikreins / genetics*
  • Tissue Kallikreins / metabolism


  • Tissue Kallikreins