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J Proteome Res. 2006 Nov;5(11):3173-8.

Zinc through the three domains of life.

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Magnetic Resonance Center (CERM), University of Florence, Via L. Sacconi 6, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino, Italy.


Zinc is one of the metal ions essential for life, as it is required for the proper functioning of a large number of proteins. Despite its importance, the annotation of zinc-binding proteins in gene banks or protein domain databases still has significant room for improvement. In the present work, we compiled a list of known zinc-binding protein domains and of known zinc-binding sequence motifs (zinc-binding patterns), and then used them jointly to analyze the proteome of 57 different organisms to obtain an overview of zinc usage by archaeal, bacterial, and eukaryotic organisms. Zinc-binding proteins are an abundant fraction of these proteomes, ranging between 4% and 10%. The number of zinc-binding proteins correlates linearly with the total number of proteins encoded by the genome of an organism, but the proportionality constant of Eukaryota (8.8%) is significantly higher than that observed in Bacteria and Archaea (from 5% to 6%). Most of this enrichment is due to the larger portfolio of regulatory proteins in Eukaryota.

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