Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 71, Issue 2, pp 229–255 | Cite as

The role of key residues in structure, function, and stability of cytochrome-c

  • Sobia Zaidi
  • Md. Imtaiyaz Hassan
  • Asimul Islam
  • Faizan Ahmad


Cytochrome-c (cyt-c), a multi-functional protein, plays a significant role in the electron transport chain, and thus is indispensable in the energy-production process. Besides being an important component in apoptosis, it detoxifies reactive oxygen species. Two hundred and eighty-five complete amino acid sequences of cyt-c from different species are known. Sequence analysis suggests that the number of amino acid residues in most mitochondrial cyts-c is in the range 104 ± 10, and amino acid residues at only few positions are highly conserved throughout evolution. These highly conserved residues are Cys14, Cys17, His18, Gly29, Pro30, Gly41, Asn52, Trp59, Tyr67, Leu68, Pro71, Pro76, Thr78, Met80, and Phe82. These are also known as “key residues”, which contribute significantly to the structure, function, folding, and stability of cyt-c. The three-dimensional structure of cyt-c from ten eukaryotic species have been determined using X-ray diffraction studies. Structure analysis suggests that the tertiary structure of cyt-c is almost preserved along the evolutionary scale. Furthermore, residues of N/C-terminal helices Gly6, Phe10, Leu94, and Tyr97 interact with each other in a specific manner, forming an evolutionary conserved interface. To understand the role of evolutionary conserved residues on structure, stability, and function, numerous studies have been performed in which these residues were substituted with different amino acids. In these studies, structure deals with the effect of mutation on secondary and tertiary structure measured by spectroscopic techniques; stability deals with the effect of mutation on Tm (midpoint of heat denaturation), ∆GD (Gibbs free energy change on denaturation) and folding; and function deals with the effect of mutation on electron transport, apoptosis, cell growth, and protein expression. In this review, we have compiled all these studies at one place. This compilation will be useful to biochemists and biophysicists interested in understanding the importance of conservation of certain residues throughout the evolution in preserving the structure, function, and stability in proteins.


Cytochrome-c Key residues Folding and stability Natural selection Electron transport chain Apoptosis 

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 771 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 60 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 34 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (DOC 3387 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sobia Zaidi
    • 1
  • Md. Imtaiyaz Hassan
    • 1
  • Asimul Islam
    • 1
  • Faizan Ahmad
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Basic SciencesJamia Millia IslamiaNew DelhiIndia

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