Cu(II)-Binding N-Terminal Sequences of Human Proteins

Chem Biodivers. 2021 Apr;18(4):e2100043. doi: 10.1002/cbdv.202100043. Epub 2021 Mar 9.


Proteins anchor copper(II) ions mainly by imidazole from histidine residues located in different positions in the primary protein structures. However, the motifs with histidine in the first three N-terminal positions (His1 , His2 , and His3 ) show unique Cu(II)-binding properties, such as availability from the surface of the protein, high flexibility, and high Cu(II) exchangeability with other ligands. It makes such sequences beneficial for the fast exchange of Cu(II) between ligands. Furthermore, sequences with His1 and His2 , thus, non-saturating the Cu(II) coordination sphere, are redox-active and may play a role in Cu(II) reduction to Cu(I). All human protein sequences deposited in UniProt Knowledgebase were browsed for those containing His1 , His2 , or His3 . Proteolytically modified sequences (with the removal of a propeptide or Met residue) were taken for the analysis. Finally, the sequences were sorted out according to the subcellular localization of the proteins to match the respective sequences with the probability of interaction with divalent copper.

Keywords: copper; histidine; peptides; proteins; redox chemistry.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Coordination Complexes / chemistry*
  • Copper / chemistry*
  • Histidine / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein


  • Coordination Complexes
  • Ligands
  • Proteins
  • Histidine
  • Copper