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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17278

Title: Distribution of Human Tissue Kallikrein-Related Peptidases in Tissues and Biological Fluids: Localization, Hormonal Regulation and Physiological Functions in the Female Reproductive System
Authors: Shaw, Julie
Advisor: Diamandis, Eleftherios P.
Department: Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology
Keywords: kallikrein
serine protease
vaginal physiology
Issue Date: 26-Feb-2009
Abstract: Human tissue kallikrein-related peptidases (KLK) are fifteen genes located on chromosome 19q13.4, encoding hormonally regulated, secreted serine proteases with trypsin/chymotrypsin-like activity. I identified expression of many KLKs in tissues throughout the female reproductive system and in cervico-vaginal fluid (CVF). The female reproductive system is hormonally regulated during the menstrual cycle, suggesting KLKs may also be regulated by these hormones. Measurement of KLKs levels in CVF and saliva samples throughout the menstrual cycle revealed a peak in expression following ovulation in both fluids. Progesterone levels rise during this period suggesting KLK regulation by progesterone during the menstrual cycle. Using proteomic techniques, I resolved the CVF proteome to identify potential KLK substrates. Among 685 proteins identified, several cell-cell adhesion molecules, cervical mucins and defense-related proteins were found. KLKs play a role in the desquamation of skin corneocytes through cleavage of cell-cell adhesion proteins. The vaginal epithelium undergoes cyclical changes during the menstrual cycle involving desquamation of cells upon rising progesterone levels. The post-ovulatory peak in KLK expression suggests that KLKs may contribute to cell desquamation during the menstrual cycle. Cervical mucus acts to block the uterus from vaginal microorganisms. Around ovulation, cervical mucus loses viscosity to facilitate sperm passage through the cervix. Proteolytic enzymes are thought to aid in this mucus remodelling. Our immunohistochemical studies localized KLK expression to the mucus secreting cervical epithelium and I investigated KLK processing of cervical mucin proteins in vitro. KLKs 5 and 12 were found to cleave mucins, suggesting their potential involvement in cervical mucus remodelling. CVF plays a role in host defense. KLKs are known to process the antimicrobial cathelicidin protein in skin and I investigated whether KLKs may also process antimicrobial proteins found in CVF. KLK5 was found to cleave defensin-1 alpha, in vitro, suggesting KLKs may aid in defense of the female reproductive system. Here I provide evidence of potential physiological roles for KLKs in the female reproductive system: in desquamation of vaginal epithelial cells, remodelling of cervical mucus and processing of antimicrobial proteins. These findings suggest KLKs may function in female fertility, in pathological conditions such as vaginitis and in host defense.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17278
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology - Doctoral theses

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