Human kallikrein 6 degrades extracellular matrix proteins and may enhance the metastatic potential of tumour cells

Tumour Biol. Jul-Aug 2004;25(4):193-9. doi: 10.1159/000081102.


Human kallikrein 6 (hK6), a trypsin-like serine protease, is a newly identified member of the kallikrein gene family. Its involvement in inflammatory CNS lesions and in demyelination has been reported. Recent work has suggested that expression of this enzyme is significantly elevated in patients with ovarian cancer. We have identified many tumour cell lines that secrete hK6, but its physiological role is unknown. Here, we try to unveil the role of this kallikrein in the metastasis and invasion of tumour cells. We demonstrate that purified human recombinant hK6 can cleave gelatin in zymography and can efficiently degrade high-molecular-weight extracellular matrix proteins such as fibronectin, laminin, vitronectin and collagen. In Boyden chamber assays, we found that tumour cells treated with a neutralizing hK6 antibody migrate less than control cells. We conclude that hK6 might play a role in the invasion and metastasis of tumour cells and may be a candidate therapeutic target.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kallikreins / genetics
  • Kallikreins / metabolism*
  • Multigene Family
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • KLK6 protein, human
  • Kallikreins