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Nucleic Acids Res. 2004 Jun 29;32(11):3435-45. Print 2004.

Dimerization specificity of all 67 B-ZIP motifs in Arabidopsis thaliana: a comparison to Homo sapiens B-ZIP motifs.

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Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins Medical School, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Erratum in

  • Nucleic Acids Res. 2004 Aug 17;32(14):4420.


Basic region-leucine zipper (B-ZIP) proteins are a class of dimeric sequence-specific DNA-binding proteins unique to eukaryotes. We have identified 67 B-ZIP proteins in the Arabidopsis thaliana genome. No A.thaliana B-ZIP domains are homologous with any Homo sapiens B-ZIP domains. Here, we predict the dimerization specificity properties of the 67 B-ZIP proteins in the A.thaliana genome based on three structural properties of the dimeric alpha-helical leucine zipper coiled coil structure: (i) length of the leucine zipper, (ii) placement of asparagine or a charged amino acid in the hydrophobic interface and (iii) presence of interhelical electrostatic interactions. Many A.thaliana B-ZIP leucine zippers are predicted to be eight or more heptads in length, in contrast to the four or five heptads typically found in H.sapiens, a prediction experimentally verified by circular dichroism analysis. Asparagine in the a position of the coiled coil is typically observed in the second heptad in H.sapiens. In A.thaliana, asparagine is abundant in the a position of both the second and fifth heptads. The particular placement of asparagine in the a position helps define 14 families of homodimerizing B-ZIP proteins in A.thaliana, in contrast to the six families found in H.sapiens. The repulsive interhelical electrostatic interactions that are used to specify heterodimerizing B-ZIP proteins in H.sapiens are not present in A.thaliana. Instead, we predict that plant leucine zippers rely on charged amino acids in the a position to drive heterodimerization. It appears that A.thaliana define many families of homodimerizing B-ZIP proteins by having long leucine zippers with asparagine judiciously placed in the a position of different heptads.

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