Deciphering B-ZIP transcription factor interactions in vitro and in vivo

Biochim Biophys Acta. Jan-Feb 2006;1759(1-2):4-12. doi: 10.1016/j.bbaexp.2005.12.005. Epub 2006 Jan 31.


Over the last 15 years, numerous studies have addressed the structural rules that regulate dimerization stability and dimerization specificity of the leucine zipper, a dimeric parallel coiled-coil domain that can either homodimerize or heterodimerize. Initially, these studies were performed with a limited set of B-ZIP proteins, sequence-specific DNA binding proteins that dimerize using the leucine zipper domain to bind DNA. A global analysis of B-ZIP leucine zipper dimerization properties can be rationalized using a limited number of structural rules [J.R. Newman, A.E. Keating, Comprehensive identification of human bZIP interactions with coiled-coil arrays, Science 300 (2003) 2097-2101]. Today, however, access to the genomic sequences of many different organisms has made possible the annotation of all B-ZIP proteins from several species and has generated a bank of data that can be used to refine, and potentially expand, these rules. Already, a comparative analysis of the B-ZIP proteins from Arabidopsis thaliana and Homo sapiens has revealed that the same amino acids are used in different patterns to generate diverse B-ZIP dimerization patterns [C.D. Deppmann, A. Acharya, V. Rishi, B. Wobbes, S. Smeekens, E.J. Taparowsky, C. Vinson, Dimerization specificity of all 67 B-ZIP motifs in Arabidopsis thaliana: a comparison to Homo sapiens B-ZIP motifs, Nucleic Acids Res. 32 (2004) 3435-3445]. The challenge ahead is to investigate the biological significance of different B-ZIP protein-protein interactions. Gaining insight at this level will rely on ongoing investigations to (a) define the role of target DNA on modulating B-ZIP dimerization partners, (b) characterize the B-ZIP transcriptome in various cells and tissues through mRNA microarray analysis, (c) identify the genomic localization of B-ZIP binding at a genomic level using the chromatin immunoprecipitation assay, and (d) develop more sophisticated imaging technologies to visualize dimer dynamics in single cells and whole organisms. Studies of B-ZIP family leucine zipper dimerization and the regulatory mechanisms that control their biological activities could serve as a paradigm for deciphering the biophysical and biological parameters governing other well-characterized protein-protein interaction motifs. This review will focus on the dimerization specificity of coiled-coil proteins, particularly the human B-ZIP transcription family that consists of 53 proteins that use the leucine zipper coiled-coil as a dimerization motif.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Dimerization
  • Nuclear Proteins / chemistry*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Thermodynamics
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • ALYREF protein, human
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • DNA