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Functional diversity of protein C-termini: more than zipcoding?

The carboxylated (C)-terminus of proteins, which includes the single terminal alpha-carboxyl group and preceding residues, is uniquely positioned to serve as a recognition signature for a variety of cell-biological processes, including protein targeting, subcellular anchoring and the static and dynamic formation of macromolecular complexes. The terminal sequence motifs can be processed by posttranslational modifications, thereby providing a means to increase sequence diversity and to regulate interactions. Several classes of protein domains have been identified that are either designed for or are capable of interacting with protein C-termini - these include PDZ and TPR domains. The interactions between these protein domains and various terminal epitopes play an important role in specifying cell-biological functions. The combination of diversity and the plasticity of the chemistry of C-termini provides mechanisms for spatial and temporal specificity that are exploited by a variety of biological processes, ranging from specifying prokaryotic protein degradation to nucleating mammalian neuronal signaling complexes. Understanding the diverse functions of protein C-termini might also provide an important indexing criterion for functional proteomics.[1]


  1. Functional diversity of protein C-termini: more than zipcoding? Chung, J.J., Shikano, S., Hanyu, Y., Li, M. Trends Cell Biol. (2002) [Pubmed]
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