The CAP superfamily: cysteine-rich secretory proteins, antigen 5, and pathogenesis-related 1 proteins--roles in reproduction, cancer, and immune defense

Endocr Rev. 2008 Dec;29(7):865-97. doi: 10.1210/er.2008-0032. Epub 2008 Sep 29.


The cysteine-rich secretory proteins, antigen 5, and pathogenesis-related 1 proteins (CAP) superfamily members are found in a remarkable range of organisms spanning each of the animal kingdoms. Within humans and mice, there are 31 and 33 individual family members, respectively, and although many are poorly characterized, the majority show a notable expression bias to the reproductive tract and immune tissues or are deregulated in cancers. CAP superfamily proteins are most often secreted and have an extracellular endocrine or paracrine function and are involved in processes including the regulation of extracellular matrix and branching morphogenesis, potentially as either proteases or protease inhibitors; in ion channel regulation in fertility; as tumor suppressor or prooncogenic genes in tissues including the prostate; and in cell-cell adhesion during fertilization. This review describes mammalian CAP superfamily gene expression profiles, phylogenetic relationships, protein structural properties, and biological functions, and it draws into focus their potential role in health and disease. The nine subfamilies of the mammalian CAP superfamily include: the human glioma pathogenesis-related 1 (GLIPR1), Golgi associated pathogenesis related-1 (GAPR1) proteins, peptidase inhibitor 15 (PI15), peptidase inhibitor 16 (PI16), cysteine-rich secretory proteins (CRISPs), CRISP LCCL domain containing 1 (CRISPLD1), CRISP LCCL domain containing 2 (CRISPLD2), mannose receptor like and the R3H domain containing like proteins. We conclude that overall protein structural conservation within the CAP superfamily results in fundamentally similar functions for the CAP domain in all members, yet the diversity outside of this core region dramatically alters target specificity and, therefore, the biological consequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / immunology
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / immunology
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / immunology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology
  • Reproduction / genetics
  • Reproduction / immunology
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • CRISP1 protein, human
  • GLIPR1 protein, human
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins