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Cytokine-like protein 1 (Cytl1), also named Protein C17 or C4orf4 is located on human chromosome 4p15-p16 and encodes a polypeptide of 126 amino acid residues that displays characteristics of a secretory protein. Cytl1 is expressed by a sub-population of CD34 + human mononuclear cells from bone marrow and cord blood, and by chondrocytes (cartilage-forming cells). In this review, we explore evidence suggesting that Cytl1 may be involved in the regulation of chondrogenesis, cartilage homeostasis and osteoarthritis progression, accompanied by the modulation of Sox9 and insulin-like growth factor 1 expression. In addition, Cytl1 exhibits chemotactic and pro-angiogenic biological effects. Interestingly, CCR2 (C–C chemokine receptor type 2) has been identified as a likely receptor for Cytl1, which mediates the ERK signalling pathway. Cytl1 also appears to mediate the TGF-beta-Smad signalling pathway, which is hypothetically independent of the CCR2 receptor. More recently, studies have also potentially linked Cytl1 with a variety of conditions including cardiac fibrosis, smoking, alcohol dependence risk, and tumours such as benign prostatic hypertrophy, lung squamous cell carcinoma, neuroblastoma and familial colorectal cancer. Defining the molecular structure of Cytl1 and its role in disease pathogenesis will help us to design therapeutic approaches for Cytl1-associated pathological conditions.
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