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Physiol Rev. 1996 Jan;76(1):127-73.

Defining the roles of parathyroid hormone-related protein in normal physiology.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


Parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) was discovered as a result of a search for the circulating factor secreted by cancers which causes the common paraneoplastic syndrome humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy. Since the identification of the peptide in 1982 and the cloning of the cDNA in 1987, it has become clear that PTHrP is a prohormone that is posttranslationally cleaved by prohormone convertases to yield a complex family of peptides, each of which is believed to have its own receptor. It is also clear that the PTHrP gene is expressed not only in cancers but also in the vast majority of normal tissues during adult and/or fetal life. In contrast to the situation in humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy in which PTHrP plays the role of a classical "endocrine" hormone, under normal circumstances PTHrP plays predominantly paracrine and/or autocrine roles. These apparent physiological functions are also complex and appear to include 1) regulation of smooth muscle (vascular, intestinal, uterine, bladder) tone, 2) regulation of transepithelial (renal, placental, oviduct, mammary gland) calcium transport, and 3) regulation of tissue and organ development, differentiation, and proliferation. In this review, the discovery of PTHrP, the structure of its gene and its cDNAs, and the posttranslational processing of the initial translation products are briefly reviewed. Attention is then focused on a detailed organ system-oriented review of the normal physiological functions of PTHrP.

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