The human 6-transmembrane epithelial antigen of prostate (STEAP) family comprises STEAP1, STEAP2, STEAP3, and STEAP4. All of these proteins are unique to mammals and share an innate activity as metalloreductases, indicating their importance in metal metabolism. Overall, they participate in a wide range of biologic processes, such as molecular trafficking in the endocytic and exocytic pathways and control of cell proliferation and apoptosis. STEAP1 and STEAP2 are overexpressed in several types of human cancers, namely prostate, bladder, colon, pancreas, ovary, testis, breast, cervix, and Ewing sarcoma, but their clinical significance and role in cancer cells are not clear. Still, their localization in the cell membrane and differential expression in normal and cancer tissues make STEAP proteins potential candidates as biomarkers of several cancers, as well as potential targets for new immunotherapeutic strategies for disease attenuation or treatment. This review brings together the current knowledge about each STEAP protein, giving an overview of the roles of this family of proteins in human physiology and disease, and analyzes their potential as immunotherapeutic agents in cancer research.
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