Zizimin proteins belong to the Dock (Dedicator of Cytokinesis) superfamily of Guanine nucleotide Exchange Factor (GEF) proteins. This family of proteins plays a role in the regulation of Rho family small GTPases. Together the Rho family of small GTPases and the Dock/Zizimin proteins play a vital role in a number of cell processes including cell migration, apoptosis, cell division and cell adhesion. Our recent studies of Zizimin proteins, using a simple biomedical model, the eukaryotic social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, have helped to elucidate the cellular role of these proteins. In this article, we discuss the domain structure of Zizimin proteins from an evolutionary viewpoint. We also compare what is currently known about the mammalian Zizimin proteins to that of related Dock proteins. Understanding the cellular functions of these proteins will provide a better insight into their role in cell signaling, and may help in treating disease pathology associated with mutations in Dock/Zizimin proteins.
Keywords: Dictyostelium; Dock proteins; RacGEFs; Rho small GTPases; Zizimins.