PHD

PHD zinc finger
PHD
SMART accession number:SM00249
Description: The plant homeodomain (PHD) finger is a C4HC3 zinc-finger-like motif found in nuclear proteins thought to be involved in epigenetics and chromatin-mediated transcriptional regulation. The PHD finger binds two zinc ions using the so-called 'cross-brace' motif and is thus structurally related to the RING finger and the FYVE finger. It is not yet known if PHD fingers have a common molecular function. Several reports suggest that it can function as a protein-protein interacton domain and it was recently demonstrated that the PHD finger of p300 can cooperate with the adjacent BROMO domain in nucleosome binding in vitro. Other reports suggesting that the PHD finger is a ubiquitin ligase have been refuted as these domains were RING fingers misidentified as PHD fingers.
Interpro abstract (IPR001965):

Zinc finger (Znf) domains are relatively small protein motifs which contain multiple finger-like protrusions that make tandem contacts with their target molecule. Some of these domains bind zinc, but many do not; instead binding other metals such as iron, or no metal at all. For example, some family members form salt bridges to stabilise the finger-like folds. They were first identified as a DNA-binding motif in transcription factor TFIIIA from Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog), however they are now recognised to bind DNA, RNA, protein and/or lipid substrates [(PUBMED:10529348), (PUBMED:15963892), (PUBMED:15718139), (PUBMED:17210253), (PUBMED:12665246)]. Their binding properties depend on the amino acid sequence of the finger domains and of the linker between fingers, as well as on the higher-order structures and the number of fingers. Znf domains are often found in clusters, where fingers can have different binding specificities. There are many superfamilies of Znf motifs, varying in both sequence and structure. They display considerable versatility in binding modes, even between members of the same class (e.g. some bind DNA, others protein), suggesting that Znf motifs are stable scaffolds that have evolved specialised functions. For example, Znf-containing proteins function in gene transcription, translation, mRNA trafficking, cytoskeleton organisation, epithelial development, cell adhesion, protein folding, chromatin remodelling and zinc sensing, to name but a few [(PUBMED:11179890)]. Zinc-binding motifs are stable structures, and they rarely undergo conformational changes upon binding their target.

This entry represents the PHD (homeodomain) zinc finger domain [(PUBMED:7701562),], which is a C4HC3 zinc-finger-like motif found in nuclear proteins thought to be involved in chromatin-mediated transcriptional regulation. The PHD finger motif is reminiscent of, but distinct from the C3HC4 type RING finger.

The function of this domain is not yet known but in analogy with the LIM domain it could be involved in protein-protein interaction and be important for the assembly or activity of multicomponent complexes involved in transcriptional activation or repression. Alternatively, the interactions could be intra-molecular and be important in maintaining the structural integrity of the protein. In similarity to the RING finger and the LIM domain, the PHD finger is thought to bind two zinc ions.

More information about these proteins can be found at Protein of the Month: Zinc Fingers [].

GO function:protein binding (GO:0005515), zinc ion binding (GO:0008270)
Family alignment:
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There are 12022 PHD domains in 7447 proteins in SMART's nrdb database.

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