Regenerating proteins and their expression, regulation and signaling

Biomol Concepts. 2012 Feb;3(1):57-70. doi: 10.1515/bmc.2011.055. Epub 2011 Nov 10.


The regenerating (Reg) protein family comprises C-type lectin-like proteins discovered independently during pancreatitis and pancreatic islet regeneration. However, an increasing number of studies provide evidence of participation of Reg proteins in the proliferation and differentiation of diverse cell types. Moreover, Reg family members are associated with various pathologies, including diabetes and forms of gastrointestinal cancer. These findings have led to the emergence of key roles for Reg proteins as anti-inflammatory, antiapoptotic and mitogenic agents in multiple physiologic and disease contexts. Yet, there are significant gaps in our knowledge regarding the regulation of expression of different Reg genes. In addition, the pathways relaying Reg-triggered signals, their targets and potential cross-talk with other cascades are still largely unknown. In this review, the expression patterns of different Reg members in the pancreas and extrapancreatic tissues are described. Moreover, factors known to modulate Reg levels in different cell types are discussed. Several signaling pathways, which have been implicated in conferring the effects of Reg ligands to date, are also delineated. Further efforts are necessary for elucidating the biological processes underlying the action of Reg proteins and their involvement in various maladies. Better understanding of the function of Reg genes and proteins will be beneficial in the design and development of therapies utilizing or targeting this protein group.