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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;985:103-47. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-4716-6_4.

Functional diversity.

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Department of Biochemistry, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, Kansas City, MO, USA.


There is increasing evidence to support a gene economy model that is fully based on the principles of evolution in which a limited number of proteins does not necessarily reflect a finite number of biochemical processes. The concept of 'gene sharing' proposes that a single protein can have alternate functions that are typically attributed to other proteins. GAPDH appears to play this role quite well in that it exhibits more than one function. GAPDH represents the prototype for this new paradigm of protein multi-functionality. The chapter discusses the diverse functions of GAPDH among three broad categories: cell structure, gene expression and signal transduction. Protein function is curiously re-specified given the cell's unique needs. GAPDH provides the cell with the means of linking metabolic activity to various cellular processes. While interpretations may often lead to GAPDH's role in meeting focal energy demands, this chapter discusses several other very distinct GAPDH functions (i.e. membrane fusogenic properties) that are quite different from its ability to catalyze oxidative phosphorylation of the triose, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate. It is suggested that a single protein participates in multiple processes in the structural organization of the cell, controls the transmission of genetic information (i.e. GAPDH's involvement may not be finite) and mediates intracellular signaling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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