Rat kallikrein-binding protein is a novel serine-proteinase inhibitor that forms a covalent complex with tissue kallikrein. We have purified rat kallikrein-binding protein and cloned the cDNA and the gene encoding rat kallikrein-binding protein [Chao, Chai, Chen, Xiong, Chao, Woodley-Miller, Wang, Lu and Chao (1990) J. Biol. Chem. 265, 16394-16401; Chai, Ma, Murray, Chao and Chao (1991) J. Biol. Chem. 266, 16029-16036]. In the present study, we have expressed rat kallikrein-binding protein in Escherichia coli with a T7-polymerase/promoter expression system. A high level of expression was detected by an e.l.i.s.a. with an average of 24.2 mg of recombinant rat kallikrein-binding protein per 1 of culture. The recombinant protein appeared as a major protein in a crude extract of Escherichia coli on SDS/PAGE. It showed a molecular mass of 43 kDa and was recognized by polyclonal antibody to the native rat kallikrein-binding protein in Western-blot analysis. The recombinant rat kallikrein-binding protein has been purified to apparent homogeneity by DEAE-Sepharose CL-6B, hydroxyapatite Bio-Gel HPHT and Mono P 5/5 column chromatography. The purified recombinant rat kallikrein-binding protein showed immunological identity with the native rat kallikrein-binding protein purified from rat serum, in a specific e.l.i.s.a. To confirm the fidelity of the expression, the N-terminal ten amino acids of the recombinant rat kallikrein-binding protein were sequenced and were shown to match perfectly with those of the native rat kallikrein-binding protein. The purified recombinant rat kallikrein-binding protein formed SDS- and heat-stable complexes with rat tissue kallikrein (rK1) and T-kininogenase (rK10) in vitro, but not with other enzymes in the rat kallikrein gene family, such as tonin (rK2) and S3 protein (rK9), which indicates enzyme-specific binding. The properties of the recombinant rat kallikrein-binding protein including its size, charge, complex formation with target enzymes and immunological characteristics were compared with those of the native protein. This expression system provides a simple way to obtain a large amount of the biologically active recombinant protein, to study structure-function relationships of the rat kallikrein-binding protein and its interaction with its target enzymes.

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