Evolution of a fungal regulatory gene family: the Zn(II)2Cys6 binuclear cluster DNA binding motif

Fungal Genet Biol. 1997 Jun;21(3):388-405. doi: 10.1006/fgbi.1997.0993.


The coevolution of DNA binding proteins and their cognate binding sites is essential for the maintenance of function. As a result, comparison of DNA binding proteins of unknown function in one species with characterized DNA binding proteins in another can identify potential targets and functions. The Zn(II)2Cys6 (or C6 zinc) binuclear cluster DNA binding domain has thus far been identified exclusively in fungal proteins, generally transcriptional regulators, and there are more than 80 known or predicted proteins which contain this motif, the best characterized of which are GAL4, PPR1, LEU3, HAP1, LAC9, and PUT3. Here we review all known proteins containing the Zn(II)2Cys6 motif, along with their function, DNA binding, dimerization, and zinc(II) coordination properties and DNA binding sites. In addition, we have identified all of the Zn(II)2Cys6 motif-containing proteins in the sequence databases, including a large number with unknown function from the completed Saccharomyces cerevisiae and ongoing Schizosaccharomyces pombe genome projects, and examined the phylogenetic relationships of all the Zn(II)2Cys6 motifs from these proteins. Based on these relationships, we have assigned potential functions to a number of these unknown proteins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA, Fungal / chemistry
  • DNA, Fungal / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Fungal Proteins / chemistry
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungi / genetics*
  • Genes, Fungal*
  • Genes, Regulator*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family*
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Zinc Fingers


  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/D01211
  • GENBANK/L26220
  • GENBANK/L32577
  • GENBANK/M17305
  • GENBANK/M24071
  • GENBANK/M31517
  • GENBANK/M34609
  • GENBANK/M36111
  • GENBANK/M63498
  • GENBANK/M68900
  • GENBANK/M76586
  • GENBANK/M80368
  • GENBANK/M96953
  • GENBANK/S75352
  • GENBANK/U34740
  • GENBANK/U47540
  • GENBANK/U56097
  • GENBANK/U56098
  • GENBANK/U56099
  • GENBANK/X02903
  • GENBANK/X06215
  • GENBANK/X06252
  • GENBANK/X14603
  • GENBANK/X78344
  • GENBANK/X81396
  • GENBANK/X84015
  • GENBANK/X94215
  • GENBANK/Z49975
  • SWISSPROT/S14292