Structures and specificity of the human kallikrein-related peptidases KLK 4, 5, 6, and 7

Biol Chem. 2008 Jun;389(6):623-32. doi: 10.1515/BC.2008.075.


Human kallikrein-related peptidases (KLKs) are (chymo)-trypsin-like serine proteinases that are expressed in a variety of tissues such as prostate, ovary, breast, testis, brain, and skin. Although their physiological functions have been only partly elucidated, many of the KLKs appear to be useful prognostic cancer markers, showing distinct correlations between their expression levels and different stages of cancer. Recent advances in the purification of 'new type' recombinant KLKs allowed solution of the crystal structures of KLK4, KLK5, KLK6, and KLK7. Along with these data, enzyme kinetic studies and extended substrate specificity profiling have led to an understanding of the non-prime-side substrate preferences of KLK4, 5, 6, and 7. The shape and polarity of the specificity pockets S1-S4 explain well their substrate preferences. KLK4, 5, and 6 exhibit trypsin-like specificity, with a strong preference for Arg at the P1 position of substrates. In contrast, KLK7 displays a unique chymotrypsin-like specificity for Tyr, which is also preferred at P2. All four KLKs show little specificity for P3 residues and have a tendency to accept hydrophobic residues at P4. Interestingly, for KLK4, 5, and 7 extended charged surface regions were observed that most likely serve as exosites for physiological substrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Humans
  • Kallikreins / chemistry*
  • Kallikreins / genetics
  • Kallikreins / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Kallikreins