Parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHRP) is a 139- to 1 73-amino-acid protein with N-terminal homology to parathyroid hormone (PTH). Initially isolated from tumors from patients with humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy, PTHRP appears to be of far more widespread physiological importance. Its complex gene is expressed in a surprising diversity of tissues. The pnmary amino acid sequences of both the PTH-like and non-PTH-like regions of the protein are highly conserved across species. In addition to classical and nonclassical PTH-like activities of the N-terminal region, other biological functions have been ascribed, including augmentation of calcium transport by midregion PTHRP and potent inhibition of bone resorption by a C-terminal peptide. There is emerging evidence thatthe protein undergoes extensive processing, including glycosylation and defined proteolytic cleavages. Several region-specific immunoassays are now capable of measunng circulating concenfrations of PTHRP in patients with humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy. Molar concentrations of different regions may differ by more than an order of magnitude, reflecting diversity in processing and (or) metabolism. By analyzing the results of these assays, taking into account the specificities of known endoproteases, one can hypothesize about some of the endoproteolytic cleavages that occur in PTHRP metabolism. Clinically, selected PTHRP assays can be very helpful in diagnosing PTHRP-mediated hypercalcemia, but are not yet sufficiently sensitive to accurately measure normal concentrations of the protein
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