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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Jan 11;1448(3):323-48.

Structural modules in actin-binding proteins: towards a new classification.

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Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Gent, Belgium.


The number of actin binding proteins for which (part of) the three-dimensional structure is known, is steadily increasing. This has led to a picture in which defined structural modules with actin binding capacity are shared between different actin binding proteins. A classification of these based on their common three-dimensional modules appears a logical future step and in this review we provide an initial list starting from the currently known structures. The discussed cases illustrate that a comparison of the similarities and variations within the common structural actin binding unit of different members of a particular class may ultimately provide shortcuts for defining their actin target site and for understanding their effect on actin dynamics. Within this concept, the multitude of possible interactions by an extensive, and still increasing, list of actin binding proteins becomes manageable because they can be presented as variations upon a limited number of structural themes. We discuss the possible evolutionary routes that may have produced the present array of actin binding modules.

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