The transient receptor potential melastatin-subfamily member 7 (TRPM7) is a ubiquitously expressed cation-permeable ion channel with intrinsic kinase activity that plays important roles in various physiological functions.
Biochemical and electrophysiological studies, in combination with molecular analyses of TRPM7, have generated insights into its functions as a cellular sensor and transducer of physicochemical stimuli.
Accumulating evidence indicates that TRPM7 channel-kinase is essential for cellular processes, such as proliferation, survival, differentiation, growth, and migration.
Experimental studies in model organisms, such as zebrafish, mouse, and frog, have begun to elucidate the pleiotropic roles of TRPM7 during embryonic development from gastrulation to organogenesis.
Aberrant expression and/or activity of the TRPM7 channel-kinase have been implicated in human diseases including a variety of cancer.
Studying the functional roles of TRPM7 and the underlying mechanisms in normal cells and developmental processes is expected to help understand how TRPM7 channel-kinase contributes to pathogenesis, such as malignant neoplasia.
On the other hand, studies of TRPM7 in diseases, particularly cancer, will help shed new light in the normal functions of TRPM7 under physiological conditions.
In this article, we will provide an updated review of the structural features and biological functions of TRPM7, present a summary of current knowledge of its roles in development and cancer, and discuss the potential of TRPM7 as a clinical biomarker and therapeutic target in malignant diseases.