Zinc alpha 2-glycoprotein: a multidisciplinary protein

Mol Cancer Res. 2008 Jun;6(6):892-906. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-07-2195.


Zinc alpha 2-glycoprotein (ZAG) is a protein of interest because of its ability to play many important functions in the human body, including fertilization and lipid mobilization. After the discovery of this molecule, during the last 5 decades, various studies have been documented on its structure and functions, but still, it is considered as a protein with an unknown function. Its expression is regulated by glucocorticoids. Due to its high sequence homology with lipid-mobilizing factor and high expression in cancer cachexia, it is considered as a novel adipokine. On the other hand, structural organization and fold is similar to MHC class I antigen-presenting molecule; hence, ZAG may have a role in the expression of the immune response. The function of ZAG under physiologic and cancerous conditions remains mysterious but is considered as a tumor biomarker for various carcinomas. There are several unrelated functions that are attributed to ZAG, such as RNase activity, regulation of melanin production, hindering tumor proliferation, and transport of nephritic by-products. This article deals with the discussion of the major aspects of ZAG from its gene structure to function and metabolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology*
  • Glycoproteins / chemistry
  • Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • AZGP1 protein, human
  • Adipokines
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I