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A phosphatase is an enzyme that uses water to cleave a phosphoric acid monoester into a phosphate ion and an alcohol. Because a phosphatase enzyme catalyzes the hydrolysis of its substrate, it is a subcategory of hydrolases. Phosphatase enzymes are essential to many biological functions, because phosphorylation (e.g. by protein kinases) and dephosphorylation (by phosphatases) serve diverse roles in cellular regulation and signaling. Whereas phosphatases remove phosphate groups from molecules, kinases catalyze the transfer of phosphate groups to molecules from ATP. Together, kinases and phosphatases direct a form of post-translational modification that is essential to the cell's regulatory network. Phosphatase enzymes are not to be confused with phosphorylase enzymes, which catalyze the transfer of a phosphate group from hydrogen phosphate to an acceptor. Due to their prevalence in cellular regulation, phosphatases are an area of interest for pharmaceutical research
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