Multifunctional zinc finger proteins in development and disease

Ann Hum Genet. 2002 Nov;66(Pt 5-6):331-42. doi: 10.1017/S0003480002001215.


Post-transcriptional processes contribute significantly towards the generation of proteomic diversity. An increasing number of mutations have been described that affect genes encoding components of the post-transcriptional machinery. In particular, multifunctional proteins that link transcription with post-transcriptional processes have been implicated in several human diseases including cancer. A predominant feature of these proteins is the zinc finger, an ancient structural motif that mediates protein ratio protein interactions and is capable of interacting with both DNA and RNA. Zinc finger proteins are the most abundant class of proteins in the human proteome, yet the majority remain uncharacterised. Here we describe multifunctional zinc finger proteins linked to human development and disease. The examples discussed are WT1, ZNF74, EWS, TLS, TAFII68, YY1, CTCF and the GLI proteins. The study of these and other zinc finger proteins provides insights into the functional versatility of the zinc finger motif and suggests that both alternative splicing and sub-cellular compartmentalisation may modulate their multifunctionality.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • DNA / metabolism
  • Disease*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Growth*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Proteome
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Zinc Fingers / genetics*


  • Proteome
  • Transcription Factors
  • RNA
  • DNA