This gene encodes a protein that belongs to the serine protease family. The encoded protein contains a type II transmembrane domain, a receptor class A domain, a scavenger receptor cysteine-rich domain and a protease domain. Serine proteases are known to be involved in many physiological and pathological processes. This gene was demonstrated to be up-regulated by androgenic hormones in prostate cancer cells and down-regulated in androgen-independent prostate cancer tissue. The protease domain of this protein is thought to be cleaved and secreted into cell media after autocleavage. The biological function of this gene is unknown.
TMPRSS2 protein's function in prostate carcinogenesis relies on overexpression of ETS transcription factors, such as ERG and ETV1, through gene fusion. TMPRSS2-ERG fusion gene is the most frequent, present in 40% - 80% of prostate cancers in humans. ERG overexpression contributes to development of androgen-independence in prostate cancer through disruption of androgen receptor signaling.
Some coronaviruses, e.g. SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2 are activated by TMPRSS2 and can thus be inhibited by TMPRSS2 inhibitors. "SARS-CoV-2 uses the SARS-CoV receptor ACE2 for entry and the serine protease TMPRSS2 for S protein priming. A TMPRSS2 inhibitor approved for clinical use blocked entry and might constitute a treatment option." One experimental candidate as a TMPRSS2 inhibitor for potential use against both influenza and coronavirus infections in general, including those prior to the advent of COVID-19, is the OTC (in most countries) mucolytic cough medicine bromhexine, which is also being investigated as a possible treatment for COVID-19 itself as well.
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