The ABCs of the Atypical Fam20 Secretory Pathway Kinases

Carolyn A. Worby, Joshua E. Mayfield, Adam J. Pollak, Jack E. Dixon (Lead / Corresponding author), Sourav Banerjee (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


The study of extracellular phosphorylation was initiated in late 19th century when the secreted milk protein, casein, and egg-yolk protein, phosvitin, were shown to be phosphorylated. However, it took more than a century to identify Fam20C, which phosphorylates both casein and phosvitin under physiological conditions. This kinase, along with its family members Fam20A and Fam20B, defined a new family with altered amino acid sequences highly atypical from the canonical 540 kinases comprising the kinome. Fam20B is a glycan kinase that phosphorylates xylose residues and triggers peptidoglycan biosynthesis, a role conserved from sponges to human. The protein kinase, Fam20C, conserved from nematodes to humans, phosphorylates well over 100 substrates in the secretory pathway with overall functions postulated to encompass endoplasmic reticulum homeostasis, nutrition, cardiac function, coagulation, and biomineralization. The preferred phosphorylation motif of Fam20C is SxE/pS, and structural studies revealed that related member Fam20A allosterically activates Fam20C by forming a heterodimeric/tetrameric complex. Fam20A, a pseudokinase, is observed only in vertebrates. Loss-of-function genetic alterations in the Fam20 family lead to human diseases such as amelogenesis imperfecta, nephrocalcinosis, lethal and nonlethal forms of Raine syndrome with major skeletal defects, and altered phosphate homeostasis. Together, these three members of the Fam20 family modulate a diverse network of secretory pathway components playing crucial roles in health and disease. The overarching theme of this review is to highlight the progress that has been made in the emerging field of extracellular phosphorylation and the key roles secretory pathway kinases play in an ever-expanding number of cellular processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100267
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Early online date8 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • extracellular matrix
  • Golgi
  • seretion
  • phosphorylation
  • signal transduction
  • enzyme structure
  • endoplasmic reticulum (ER)
  • biomineralization
  • enzyme mutation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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