The Secret Lives of Proteins

Recent research suggests that many structural and enzymatic proteins serve double or even triple duty (see Enzymatic Alter-Egos Unmasked). Three multifunctional proteins identified in higher animals are shown below.


Proposed functions:

©2003 American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
 Trimeric structure of gephyrin's N-terminal domain in rat. Secondary structural elements are labeled for one monomer. Black arrows indicate the positions of proposed active sites. (M. Sola et al., J Biol Chem, 276:25294-301, 2001)

  • In neurons, forms a scaffold that stabilizes inhibitory neurotransmitter receptors by anchoring them to the cytoskeleton
  • Involved in synthesizing the molybdenum cofactor (Moco), a crucial component of certain enzymes that catalyze redox reactions
  • May regulate translational machinery synthesizing proteins in dendrites
  • May link neurotransmitter receptors to intracellular signaling proteins that regulate long-term synaptic changes (which underlie learning and memory)


Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein (WASP)

Proposed functions:

© Nature...

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