Post-translational modifications (PTMs) of proteins are central to epigenetic regulation and cellular signalling, playing an important role in the pathogenesis and progression of numerous diseases. Growing evidence indicates that protein arginine citrullination, catalysed by peptidylarginine deiminases (PADs), is involved in many aspects of molecular and cell biology and is emerging as a potential druggable target in multiple diseases including cancer. However, we are only just beginning to understand the molecular activities of PADs, and their underlying mechanistic details in vivo under both physiological and pathological conditions. Many questions still remain regarding the dynamic cellular functions of citrullination and its interplay with other types of PTMs. This review, therefore, discusses the known functions of PADs with a focus on cancer biology, highlighting the cross-talk between citrullination and other types of PTMs, and how this interplay regulates downstream biological events. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue 'The virtues and vices of protein citrullination'.

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