Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2000 Mar;64(1):153-79.

Microbial relatives of the seed storage proteins of higher plants: conservation of structure and diversification of function during evolution of the cupin superfamily.

Author information

  • 1School of Plant Sciences, The University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom.


This review summarizes the recent discovery of the cupin superfamily (from the Latin term "cupa," a small barrel) of functionally diverse proteins that initially were limited to several higher plant proteins such as seed storage proteins, germin (an oxalate oxidase), germin-like proteins, and auxin-binding protein. Knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of two vicilins, seed proteins with a characteristic beta-barrel core, led to the identification of a small number of conserved residues and thence to the discovery of several microbial proteins which share these key amino acids. In particular, there is a highly conserved pattern of two histidine-containing motifs with a varied intermotif spacing. This cupin signature is found as a central component of many microbial proteins including certain types of phosphomannose isomerase, polyketide synthase, epimerase, and dioxygenase. In addition, the signature has been identified within the N-terminal effector domain in a subgroup of bacterial AraC transcription factors. As well as these single-domain cupins, this survey has identified other classes of two-domain bicupins including bacterial gentisate 1, 2-dioxygenases and 1-hydroxy-2-naphthoate dioxygenases, fungal oxalate decarboxylases, and legume sucrose-binding proteins. Cupin evolution is discussed from the perspective of the structure-function relationships, using data from the genomes of several prokaryotes, especially Bacillus subtilis. Many of these functions involve aspects of sugar metabolism and cell wall synthesis and are concerned with responses to abiotic stress such as heat, desiccation, or starvation. Particular emphasis is also given to the oxalate-degrading enzymes from microbes, their biological significance, and their value in a range of medical and other applications.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk