Semi Kim 1,2
1Microbiome Convergence Research Center, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Daejon 34141, Korea.
2Department of Functional Genomics, Korea University of Science and Technology, Daejon 34113, Korea
Corresponding author : Correspondence to Semi Kim.
Proteases are involved in almost all biological processes, implying their importance for both health and pathological conditions. Dysregulation of proteases is a key event in cancer. Initially, research identified their role in invasion and metastasis, but more recent studies have shown that proteases are involved in all stages of cancer development and progression, both directly through proteolytic activity and indirectly via regulation of cellular signaling and functions. Over the past two decades, a novel subfamily of serine proteases called type II transmembrane serine proteases (TTSPs) has been identified. Many TTSPs are overexpressed by a variety of tumors and are potential novel markers of tumor development and progression; these TTSPs are possible molecular targets for anticancer therapeutics. The transmembrane protease serine 4 (TMPRSS4), a member of the TTSP family, is upregulated in pancreatic, colorectal, gastric, lung, thyroid, prostate, and several other cancers; indeed, elevated expression of TMPRSS4 often correlates with poor prognosis. Based on its broad expression profile in cancer, TMPRSS4 has been the focus of attention in anticancer research. This review summarizes up-to-date information regarding the expression, regulation, and clinical relevance of TMPRSS4, as well as its role in pathological contexts, particularly in cancer. It also provides a general overview of epithelial-mesenchymal transition and TTSPs.