Shapes and Patterns of Heme-Binding Motifs in Mammalian Heme-Binding Proteins
Heme is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it has a pivotal role as a prosthetic group of hemoproteins in many biological processes ranging from oxygen transport and storage to miRNA processing. On the other hand, heme can transiently associate with proteins, thereby regulating biochemical pathways. During hemolysis, excess heme, which is released into the plasma, can bind to proteins and regulate their activity and function. The role of heme in these processes is under-investigated, with one problem being the lack of knowledge concerning recognition mechanisms for the initial association of heme with the target protein and the formation of the resulting complex. A specific heme-binding sequence motif is a prerequisite for such complex formation. Although numerous short signature sequences indicating a particular protein function are known, a comprehensive analysis of the heme-binding motifs (HBMs) which have been identified in proteins, concerning specific patterns and structural peculiarities, is missing. In this report, we focus on the evaluation of known mammalian heme-regulated proteins concerning specific recognition and structural patterns in their HBMs. The Cys-Pro dipeptide motifs are particularly emphasized because of their more frequent occurrence. This analysis presents a comparative insight into the sequence and structural anomalies observed during transient heme binding, and consequently, in the regulation of the relevant protein.