The present evaluates the key features of the WFDC1 [WAP (whey acidic protein) four disulfide core 1] gene that encodes ps20 (20 kDa prostate stromal protein), a member of the WAP family. ps20 was first characterized as a growth inhibitory activity that was secreted by fetal urogenital sinus mesenchymal cells. Purified ps20 exhibited several activities that centre on cell adhesion, migration and proliferation. The WFDC1 gene was cloned, contained seven exons, and was mapped to chromosome 16q24, suggesting that it may function as a tumour suppressor; however, direct evidence of this has not emerged. In vivo, ps20 stimulated angiogenesis, although expression of WFDC1/ps20 was down-regulated in the reactive stroma tumour microenvironment in prostate cancer. WFDC1 expression is differential in other cancers and inflammatory conditions. Recent studies point to a role in viral infectivity. Although mechanisms of action are not fully understood, WFDC1/ps20 is emerging as a secreted matricellular protein that probably affects response to micro-organisms and tissue repair homoeostasis.

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