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Peptides. 2000 Sep;21(9):1433-46.

Fifteen years of prothymosin alpha: contradictory past and new horizons.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Santiago de Compostela. 15706, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


Prothymosin alpha (ProTalpha) is a highly acidic and small protein of only 111 amino acids with an unusual primary structure. One would expected it to play an essential role in the organism, as it has a wide distribution and is high conserved among mammals, yet its exact function remains elusive. Despite the number of effects described for ProTalpha, intracellular and extracellular, none are accepted as its physiological role. Furthermore, many other aspects of its biology still remain obscure. In this review, we discuss the structural properties, location, gene family, functions and immunomodulatory activities of and cellular receptors for ProTalpha. These topics are addressed in an attempt to reconcile opposing outlooks while emphasizing those points where scant investigations do exist. We have also re-evaluated some previous results in light of the structural properties of ProTalpha and have found that molecular mimetism could be the underlying basis. This molecular mimicry hypothesis provides a clue that must not be overlooked for a realistic appraisal of future results.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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