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Bryan B Ho and Clemens Bergwitz

Fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23) is a phosphotropic hormone that belongs to a subfamily of endocrine FGFs with evolutionarily conserved functions in C. elegans and fruit flies. FAM20C phosphorylates FGF23 post-translationally, targeting to proteolysis through subtilisin-like proprotein convertase FURIN, resulting in secretion of FGF23 fragments. O-glycosylation of FGF23 through GALNT3 appears to prevent proteolysis, resulting in secretion of biologically active intact FGF23. In the circulation, FGF23 may undergo further processing by plasminogen activators. Crystal structures show the ectodomain of the cognate FGF23 receptor FGFR1c binds with the ectodomain of the co-receptor alpha-KLOTHO. The KLOTHO-FGFR1c double heterodimer creates a high-affinity binding site for the FGF23 C-terminus. The topology of FGF23 deviates from that of paracrine FGFs, resulting in poor affinity for heparan sulfate, which may explain why FGF23 diffuses freely in the bone matrix to enter the bloodstream following its secretion by cells of osteoblastic lineage. Intact FGF23 signalling by this canonical pathway activates FRS2/RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK1/2. It reduces serum phosphate by inhibiting 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D synthesis, suppressing intestinal phosphate absorption, and by downregulating the transporters NPT2a and NPT2c, suppressing phosphate reabsorption in the proximal tubules. The physiological role of FGF23 fragments, which may be inhibitory, remains unclear. Pharmacological and genetic activation of canonical FGF23 signalling causes hypophosphatemic disorders, while its inhibition results in hyperphosphatemic disorders. Non-canonical FGF23 signalling through binding and activation of FGFR3/FGFR4/calcineurin/NFAT in an alpha-KLOTHO-independent fashion mainly occurs at extremely elevated circulating FGF23 levels and may contribute to mortality due to cardiovascular disease and left ventricular hypertrophy in chronic kidney disease.