In this paper, we review the current literature about the UHRF family that in particular includes the UHRF1 and UHRF2 genes. Its members play a fundamental role in cell proliferation through different structural domains. These domains include a ubiquitin-like domain (NIRF_N), a plant homeodomain (PHD) domain, a SRA domain and a RING domain. The SRA domain has only been observed in this family probably conferring unique properties to it. The unique enzymatic activity so far identified in this family involves the RING finger that contains a ubiquitin E3 ligase activity toward, for instance, histones. The physiological roles played by the UHRF family are most likely exerted during embryogenic development and when proliferation is required in adults. Interestingly, UHRF members are putative oncogenes regulated by tumor suppressor genes, but they exert also a feedback control on these latter. Finally, we propose some new roles for this family, including regulation and/or inheritance of the epigenetic code. Alteration of these regulatory mechanisms, such as those occurring in cancer cells, may be involved in carcinogenesis. The reasons why the UHRF family could be an interesting target for developing anticancer drugs is also developed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)