Tankyrase 1 (TNKS1) and tankyrase 2 (TNKS2) are two homologous proteins that are gaining increasing importance due to their implication in multiple pathways and diseases such as cancer. TNKS1/2 interact with a large variety of substrates through the ankyrin (ANK) domain, which recognizes a sequence present in all the substrates of tankyrase, called Tankyrase Binding Motif (TBM). One of the main functions of tankyrases is the regulation of protein stability through the process of PARylation-dependent ubiquitination (PARdU). Nonetheless, there are other functions less studied that are also essential in order to understand the role of tankyrases in many pathways.
In this review, the Authors concentrate in different tankyrase substrates and we analyze in depth the biological consequences derived of their interaction with TNKS1/2. They also examine the concept of both canonical and non-canonical TBMs and finally, we focus on the information about the role of TNKS1/2 in different tumor context, along with the benefits and limitations of the current TNKS inhibitors targeting the catalytic PARP domain and the novel strategies to develop inhibitors against the ankyrin domain. Available data indicates the need for further deepening in the knowledge of tankyrases to elucidate and improve the current view of the role of these PARP family members and get inhibitors with a better therapeutic and safety profile.