Zinc finger protein‑like 1 is a novel neuroendocrine biomarker for prostate cancer

Int J Oncol. 2023 Mar;62(3):38. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2023.5486. Epub 2023 Feb 17.


Prostate‑derived calcitonin (CT) and its receptor induce tumorigenicity and increase metastatic potential of prostate cancer (PC). CT‑inducible genes in human prostate were identified by subtraction hybridization. Among these genes, zinc finger protein like 1 (ZFPL1) protein was interesting since it was abundantly expressed in malignant prostates but was almost absent in benign prostates. ZFPL1 expression was upregulated by CT and androgens, and ZFPL1 protein was secreted by prostate tumor cells through exosomal secretion. Serum levels of ZFPL1 in cancer patients were at least 4‑fold higher than those in the sera of cancer‑free individuals. Cell biology of ZFPL1 suggests its localization in Golgi bodies and exosomes, and its colocalization with chromogranin A and CD44. These results suggested that ZFPL1 is secreted by tumor cells of neuroendocrine (NE)/stem cell phenotype. The knockdown of endogenous ZFPL1 in (PC) cells led to a remarkable decrease in cell proliferation, and invasion while increasing their apoptosis. As expected, the overexpression of ZFPL1 in prostate cells had an opposite effect on these functions. The knockdown of ZFPL1 in PC cells also decreased Akt phosphorylation, suggesting the actions of ZFPL1 may be mediated through the PI3K‑Akt pathway. Moreover, the present results revealed that ZFPL1 is released by tumors cells of NE or androgen‑independent phenotype and its serum levels are significantly higher in cancer patients, suggesting that it may serve as a blood‑based non‑invasive biomarker of aggressive PC.

Keywords: calcitonin; cancer marker; neuroendocrine; prostate cancer; zinc finger protein like 1.

MeSH terms

  • Androgens
  • Biomarkers
  • DNA-Binding Proteins* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt* / metabolism
  • Zinc Fingers


  • Androgens
  • Biomarkers
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • ZFPL1 protein, human
  • DNA-Binding Proteins

Grants and funding

The present study was supported by grant CA096534 of the National Institutes of Health and Calhoun Endowment.