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FEBS Lett. 2001 Feb 16;490(3):190-5.

Functions of WW domains in the nucleus.

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Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY 10029, USA.


The WW domain is a protein module found in a wide range of signaling proteins. It is one of the smallest protein modules that folds as a monomer without disulfide bridges or cofactors. WW domains bind proteins containing short linear peptide motifs that are proline-rich or contain at least one proline. Although the WW domain was initially considered a 'cytoplasmic module', the proteins containing WW domains have also been localized in the cell nucleus. Moreover, these proteins have been documented to participate in co-activation of transcription and modulation of RNA polymerase II activity. The carboxy-terminal domain (CTD) of RNA polymerase II acts as an assembly platform for distinct WW domain-containing proteins that affect the function of the RNA polymerase II. The formation of complexes between CTD and WW domain-containing proteins is regulated by phosphorylation of the CTD. Since the CTD sequence is highly repetitive and a target of several post-translational modifications and conformational changes, it presents a unique structure capable of enormous molecular diversity. The WW domain has been implicated in several human diseases including Alzheimer's disease. The WW domain-containing iso-prolyl isomerase named Pin1, a protein known to be essential for cell cycle progression, was shown to be active in restoration of the microtubule-binding activity of Tau, a protein of neurofibrillar tangles found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. It is the WW domain of Pin1 that interacts directly with Tau protein. In addition, the WW domain-containing adapter protein FE65 was shown to regulate processing of Alzheimer's amyloid precursor protein. It is expected that by understanding the details of the WW domain-mediated protein-protein interactions, we will be able to illuminate numerous signaling pathways which control certain aspects of transcription and cell cycle.

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