We have identified a tissue-kallikrein-binding protein in human serum and in the serum-free culture media from human lung fibroblasts (WI-38) and rodent neuroblastoma X glioma hybrid cells (NG108-15). Purified and 125I-labelled tissue kallikrein and human serum form an approximately 92,000-Mr SDS-stable complex. The relative quantity of this complex-formation is measured by densitometric scanning of autoradiograms. Complex-formation between tissue kallikrein and the serum binding protein was time-dependent and detectable after 5 min incubation at 37 degrees C, with half-maximal binding at 28 min. Binding of 125I-kallikrein to kallikrein-binding protein is temperature-dependent and can be inhibited by heparin or excess unlabelled tissue kallikrein but not by plasma kallikrein, collagenase, thrombin, urokinase, alpha 1-antitrypsin or kininogens. The kallikrein-binding protein is acid- and heat-labile, as pretreatment of sera at pH 3.0 or at 60 degrees C for 30 min diminishes complex-formation. However, the formed complexes are stable to acid or 1 M-hydroxylamine treatment and can only be partially dissociated with 10 mM-NaOH. When kallikrein was inhibited by the active-site-labelling reagents phenylmethanesulphonyl fluoride or D-Phe-D-Phe-L-Arg-CH2Cl no complex-formation was observed. An endogenous approximately 92,000-Mr kallikrein-kallikrein-binding protein complex was isolated from normal human serum by using a human tissue kallikrein-agarose affinity column. These complexes were recognized by anti-(human tissue kallikrein) antibodies, but not by anti-alpha 1-antitrypsin serum, in Western-blot analyses. The results show that the kallikrein-binding protein is distinct from alpha 1-antitrypsin and is not identifiable with any of the well-characterized plasma proteinase inhibitors such as alpha 2-macroglobulin, inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor, C1-inactivator or antithrombin III. The functional role of this kallikrein-binding protein and its impact on kallikrein activity or metabolism in vivo remain to be investigated.

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