Colorectal cancer is one of the most common oncogenic diseases in the Western world. Several cancer associated cellular pathways have been identified, in which protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation, especially on tyrosine residues, are one of most abundant regulatory mechanisms. The balance between these processes is under tight control by protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs) and protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs). Aberrant activity of oncogenic PTKs is present in a large portion of human cancers. Because of the counteracting role of PTPs on phosphorylation-based activation of signal pathways, it has long been thought that PTPs must act as tumor suppressors. This dogma is now being challenged, with recent evidence showing that dephosphorylation events induced by some PTPs may actually stimulate tumor formation. As such, PTPs might form a novel attractive target for anticancer therapy. In this review, we summarize the action of different PTPs, the consequences of their altered expression in colorectal cancer, and their potential as target for the treatment of this deadly disease
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