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Annu Rev Physiol. 2010;72:625-45. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-021909-135922.

Mammalian Per-Arnt-Sim proteins in environmental adaptation.

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McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


The Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) domain is conserved across the kingdoms of life and found in an ever-growing list of proteins. This domain can bind to and sense endogenous or xenobiotic small molecules such as molecular oxygen, cellular metabolites, or polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Members of this family are often found in pathways that regulate responses to environmental change; in mammals these include the hypoxia, circadian, and dioxin response pathways. These pathways function in development and throughout life to regulate cellular, organ, and whole-organism adaptive responses. Remarkably, in the case of the clock, this adaptation includes anticipation of environmental change. In this review, we summarize the roles of PAS domain-containing proteins in mammals. We provide structural evidence that functionally classifies both known and unknown biological roles. Finally, we discuss the role of PAS proteins in anticipation of and adaptation to environmental change.

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