Structure-function relationships in heme-proteins

DNA Cell Biol. 2002 Apr;21(4):271-80. doi: 10.1089/104454902753759690.


Biological systems rely on heme-proteins to carry out a number of basic functions essential for their survival. Hemes, or iron-porphyrin complexes, are the versatile and ubiquitous active centers of these proteins. In the past decade, discovery of new heme-proteins, together with functional and structural research, provided a wealth of information on these diverse and biologically important molecules. Structure determination work has shown that nature has used a variety of different scaffolds and architectures to bind heme and modulate functions such as redox properties. Structural data have also provided insights into the heme-linked protein conformational changes required in many regulatory heme-proteins. Remarkable efforts have been made towards the understanding of factors governing redox potentials. Site-directed mutagenesis studies and theoretical calculations on heme environments investigated the roles of hydrophobic and electrostatic residues, and analyzed the effect of heme solvent accessibility. This review focuses on the structure-function relationships underlying the association of heme in signaling and iron metabolism proteins. In addition, an account is given about molecular features affecting heme's redox properties; this briefly revisits previous conclusions in the light of some more recent reports.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hemeproteins* / chemistry
  • Hemeproteins* / genetics
  • Hemeproteins* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Hemeproteins