Expansion of an unstable nucleotide repeat is a mutational mechanism that
is apparently unique to humans and is known to cause a variety of neurological
disorders. This collection of minireviews examines several of these unstable
repeats, focusing on those where there is considerable molecular information
on how the mutation alters function.
Metals have important roles in biochemistry ranging from essential to toxic. This prologue introduces the second of the Thematic Minireview Series on Metals in Biology, which includes minireviews on five metals: iron, zinc, nickel, vanadium, and arsenic. Three of the minireviews are focused on the roles of the metals in enzymes (iron, nickel, and vanadium). Zinc deficiency is discussed in another, and the arsenic minireview deals with the toxic and some potentially useful applications of the biological effects.
Metals are present in nearly one-half of protein structures analyzed to date and play important roles in many of these enzymes. This prologue introduces the third of the Thematic Minireview Series on Metals in Biology, which is focused on iron homeostasis. The four minireviews in the current series deal with redox cycling in iron metabolism, the biogenesis and assembly of iron-sulfur centers (two articles), and the assembly of iron into heme.
The emergence of genomics; ongoing computational advances; and the development of large-scale sequence, structural, and functional databases have created important new interdisciplinary linkages between molecular evolution, molecular biology, and enzymology. The five minireviews in this series survey advances and challenges in this burgeoning field from complementary perspectives. The series has three major themes. The first is the evolution of enzyme superfamilies, in which members exhibit increasing sequence, structural, and functional divergence with increasing time of divergence from a common ancestor. The second is the evolutionary role of promiscuous enzymes, which, in addition to their primary function, have adventitious secondary activities that frequently provide the starting point for the evolution of new enzymes. The third is the importance of in silico approaches to the daunting challenge of assigning and predicting the functions of the many uncharacterized proteins in the large-scale sequence and structural databases that are now available. A recent computational advance, the use of protein similarity networks that map functional data onto proteins clustered by similarity, is presented as an approach that can improve functional insight and inference. The three themes are illustrated with several examples of enzyme superfamilies...
Metals are present in about one-half of the protein structures available and also have critical roles in nucleic acid biochemistry. This prologue introduces the fourth of the Thematic Minireview Series on Metals in Biology, which deals with several topics involving iron, manganese, copper, and other metals. The six minireviews discuss metal transport and intracellular homeostasis, including chaperones and siderophores, maturation of the diiron active sites in hydrogenases, the balance between manganese and iron, and copper homeostasis relevant to pathogens.
One-half of the available protein structures contain metals, explaining their roles as essential trace elements. Metals are also critical in many aspects of nucleic acid biochemistry. This prologue briefly introduces the fifth of the Thematic Series on Metals in Biology, which began in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 2009. The five minireviews in this 2013 series deal with the molybdenum prosthetic group (a pterin known as Moco); the biosynthesis of the “M-cluster” molybdenum prosthetic group of nitrogenase; the biosynthesis of the nickel-based metallocenter of the enzyme urease; several of the processing, transport, and medical aspects of cobalamins; and the growing roles of heme sensor proteins.
Cytochrome P450 enzymes have major roles in the metabolism of steroids, drugs, carcinogens, eicosanoids, and numerous other chemicals. The P450s are collectively considered the most diverse catalysts known in biochemistry, although they operate from a basic structural fold and catalytic mechanism. The four minireviews in this thematic series deal with the unusual aspects of catalytic reactions and electron transfer pathway organization, the structural diversity of P450s, and the expanding roles of P450s in disease and medicine.
The importance of reversible protein phosphorylation to cellular regulation cannot be overstated. In eukaryotic cells, protein kinase/phosphatase signaling pathways regulate a staggering number of cellular processes, including cell proliferation, cell death (apoptosis, necroptosis, necrosis), metabolism (at both the cellular and organismal levels), behavior and neurological function, development, and pathogen resistance. Although protein phosphorylation as a mode of eukaryotic cell regulation is familiar to most biochemists, many are less familiar with protein kinase/phosphatase signaling networks that function in prokaryotes. In this thematic minireview series, we present four minireviews that cover the important field of prokaryotic protein phosphorylation.
Intein-mediated protein splicing raises questions and creates opportunities in many scientific areas. Evolutionary biologists question whether inteins are primordial enzymes or simply selfish elements, whereas biochemists seek to understand how inteins work. Synthetic chemists exploit inteins in the semisynthesis of proteins with or without nonribosomal modifications, whereas biotechnologists use modified inteins in an ever increasing variety of applications. The four minireviews in this series explore these themes. The first minireview focuses on the evolution and biological function of inteins, whereas the second describes the mechanisms that underlie the remarkable ability of inteins to perform complex sets of choreographed enzymatic reactions. The third explores the relationship between the three-dimensional structure and dynamics of inteins and their biochemical capabilities. The fourth describes intein applications that have moved beyond simple technology development to utilizing inteins in more sophisticated applications, such as biosensors for identifying ligands of human hormone receptors or improved methods of biofuel and plant-based sugar production.