The APOBEC Protein Family: United by Structure, Divergent in Function

Trends Biochem Sci. 2016 Jul;41(7):578-594. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2016.05.001. Epub 2016 Jun 6.


The APOBEC (apolipoprotein B mRNA editing catalytic polypeptide-like) family of proteins have diverse and important functions in human health and disease. These proteins have an intrinsic ability to bind to both RNA and single-stranded (ss) DNA. Both function and tissue-specific expression varies widely for each APOBEC protein. We are beginning to understand that the activity of APOBEC proteins is regulated through genetic alterations, changes in their transcription and mRNA processing, and through their interactions with other macromolecules in the cell. Loss of cellular control of APOBEC activities leads to DNA hypermutation and promiscuous RNA editing associated with the development of cancer or viral drug resistance, underscoring the importance of understanding how APOBEC proteins are regulated.

Keywords: APOBEC; DNA mutation; RNA editing; cytidine deaminase; disease mechanisms; epigenetics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • APOBEC Deaminases / chemistry*
  • APOBEC Deaminases / metabolism*
  • Humans


  • APOBEC Deaminases