Metalloreductases are proteins that mediate metal metabolism. They are also known as members of the human 6-transmembrane epithelial antigen of prostate (STEAP) family, which is composed of four members: STEAP1, STEAP2, STEAP3, and STEAP4. All members of this family share common features in their structure and act as metalloreductases in human, except for STEAP1. Overall, these proteins are involved in a wide range of physiological processes, such as the molecular trafficking in the endocytic and exocytic pathways, and control of cell proliferation and apoptosis. STEAPs, especially STEAP1 and STEAP2, are found to be overexpressed in several human cancers (e.g., prostate, bladder, kidney, and liver). Moreover, their localization in the cell membrane and the role of facilitating the proliferation and invasion of cancer cells, indicating that these proteins can be regarded as potential disease biomarkers and immunotherapeutic targets against cancers. However, the mechanisms remain largely elusive and are required to be elucidated. Further researches exploring the expression, regulation, and role of STEAP proteins in cancer pathophysiology, diagnosis, and therapeutic approaches are needed to be conducted in the future.
Here, we briefly introduce our current knowledge about these two members of the STEAP family, STEAP1 and STEAP2, focusing on the tissue distribution, roles in human physiology and disease, as well as their potential as immunotherapeutic agents in cancer therapy.
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