Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 111–131 | Cite as

Keep Your Fingers Off My DNA: Protein–Protein Interactions Mediated by C2H2 Zinc Finger Domains

  • Kathryn J. Brayer
  • David J. Segal
Review Paper


Cys2-His2 (C2H2) zinc finger domains (ZFs) were originally identified as DNA-binding domains, and uncharacterized domains are typically assumed to function in DNA binding. However, a growing body of evidence suggests an important and widespread role for these domains in protein binding. There are even examples of zinc fingers that support both DNA and protein interactions, which can be found in well-known DNA-binding proteins such as Sp1, Zif268, and Ying Yang 1 (YY1). C2H2 protein–protein interactions (PPIs) are proving to be more abundant than previously appreciated, more plastic than their DNA-binding counterparts, and more variable and complex in their interactions surfaces. Here we review the current knowledge of over 100 C2H2 zinc finger-mediated PPIs, focusing on what is known about the binding surface, contributions of individual fingers to the interaction, and function. An accurate understanding of zinc finger biology will likely require greater insights into the potential protein interaction capabilities of C2H2 ZFs.


Transcription factors Protein–DNA interactions Protein chemistry Structural biology Functional annotations 



This work was supported in part by Contract 9016 from the Arizona Disease Control Research Committee. KJB received support from an NSF IGERT-Genomics award.


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of PharmacyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Genome Center and Department of PharmacologyUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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