The histidine triad superfamily of nucleotide-binding proteins

J Cell Physiol. 1999 Nov;181(2):179-87. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-4652(199911)181:2<179::AID-JCP1>3.0.CO;2-8.


Histidine triad (HIT) proteins were until recently a superfamily of proteins that shared only sequence motifs. Crystal structures of nucleotide-bound forms of histidine triad nucleotide-binding protein (Hint) demonstrated that the conserved residues in HIT proteins are responsible for their distinctive, dimeric, 10-stranded half-barrel structures that form two identical purine nucleotide-binding sites. Hint-related proteins, found in all forms of life, and fragile histidine triad (Fhit)-related proteins, found in animals and fungi, represent the two main branches of the HIT superfamily. Hint homologs are intracellular receptors for purine mononucleotides whose cellular function remains elusive. Fhit homologs bind and cleave diadenosine polyphosphates (Ap(n)A) such as ApppA and AppppA. Fhit-Ap(n)A complexes appear to function in a proapoptotic tumor suppression pathway in epithelial tissues. In invertebrates, Fhit homologs are encoded as fusion proteins with proteins related to plant and bacterial nitrilases that are candidate signaling partners in tumor suppression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Hydrolases*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleotides / metabolism*
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Nucleotides
  • Proteins
  • histidine triad protein
  • Hydrolases