C2H2 zinc‐finger proteins (ZFPs) constitute the largest family of nucleic acid binding factors in higher eukaryotes. In silico analysis identified a total of 326 putative ZFP genes in the Drosophila genome, corresponding to ∼2.3% of the annotated genes. Approximately 29% of the Drosophila ZFPs are evolutionary conserved in humans and/or Caenorhabditis elegans. In addition, ∼28% of the ZFPs contain an N‐terminal zinc‐finger‐associated C4DM domain (ZAD) consisting of ∼75 amino acid residues. The ZAD is restricted to ZFPs of dipteran and closely related insects. The evolutionary restriction, an expansion of ZAD‐containing ZFP genes in the Drosophila genome and their clustering at few chromosomal sites are features reminiscent of vertebrate KRAB‐ZFPs. ZADs are likely to represent protein–protein interaction domains. We propose that ZAD‐containing ZFP genes participate in transcriptional regulation either directly or through site‐specific modification and/or regulation of chromatin.
EMBO Reports – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 2002
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