Human Kallikrein 2 (hK2) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA): two closely related, but distinct, kallikreins in the prostate

Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 1998 Aug;35(4):275-368. doi: 10.1080/10408369891234219.


Recent studies on human kallikrein 2 (hK2) have revealed striking similarities and significant differences with the closely related kallikrein PSA. Both PSA and hK2 are primarily localized to the prostate and share close structural similarities. Although both kallikreins are produced by the same secretory epithelial cells in the prostate, hK2 is associated more with prostate tumors than PSA and is highly expressed in poorly differentiated cancer cells. The potent trypsin-like activity of hK2 contrasts with the weak chymotrypsin-like activity of PSA. The inactive precursor form of PSA, proPSA, is converted rapidly to active PSA by hK2, suggesting an important in vivo regulatory function by hK2 on PSA activity. The high homology between hK2 and PSA results in significant cross-reactivity to hK2 by polyclonal and some monoclonal antibodies to PSA. Future studies on both PSA and hK2 need to take into account this potential for cross-reactivity. Specific monoclonal antibodies to hK2 have now demonstrated that serum levels of hK2, like PSA, are correlated with prostate cancer. The production of hK2 protein in active protease form and specific monoclonal antibodies to the hK2 antigen will allow extensive future studies delineating the physiological and clinical utility of this new prostate antigen.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Kallikreins / analysis
  • Kallikreins / genetics
  • Kallikreins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Prostate / chemistry*
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / analysis
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / genetics
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Tissue Kallikreins
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / analysis
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / metabolism*


  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Kallikreins
  • Tissue Kallikreins
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen