The human kallikrein locus consists of KLK1, the gene of major tissue kallikrein, and 14 genes of kallikrein-related peptidases (KLKs) located in tandem on chromosome 19q13.3-13.4. In this review, based on information retrieved from the literature or extracted from genome databases, it is hypothesised that the kallikrein locus is unique to mammals. The majority of genes are highly conserved, as demonstrated by the identification of 11 KLK genes in the opossum, a metatherian species. In contrast, a sublocus, encompassing KLK1-4, has gone through major transformations that have generated new genes, which in most cases are closely related to KLK1. In the primate lineage, this process created KLK3, the gene of the prostate cancer marker, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), whereas in the murine lineage it gave rise to 13 genes unique to the mouse and nine unique to the rat. The KLK proteases are effector molecules that emerged early in mammalian evolution and their importance in skin homeostasis and male reproductive function is undisputed and there are also accumulating evidence for a role of KLK proteases in the development of the brain. It is speculated that the KLK gene family arose as part of the process that generated distinguishing mammalian features, like skin with hair and sweat glands, and specialised anatomical attributes of the brain and the reproductive tract.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems