The Roles of Thiolate-Heme Proteins, Other Than the P450 Cytochromes, in the Regulation of Heme-Sensor Proteins

Jotaro Igarashi 1, Kenichi Kitanishi 1, Marketa Martinkova 2, Motohiko Murase 1 ,Aya Iizuka 1 and Toru Shimizu 1,*

1 Institute of Multidisciplinary Research for Advanced Materials, Tohoku University, 2-1-1 Katahira, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8577, Japan
2 Present address: Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Hlavova 2030/8, Prague 2, 128 40, Czech Republic
* Corresponding author: E-mail:,
Tel: 81-22-217-5604, 5605; Fax: 81-22-217-5604, 5390

Cytochrome P450, nitric oxide synthase, and chloroperoxidase are typical thiolate-heme enzymes, in which heme iron coordinated with the cysteine thiolate activates molecular oxygen or hydrogen peroxide. A new group of thiolate-heme proteins is becoming recognized. In these proteins, termed heme-responsive/sensing proteins, or simply heme-sensor proteins, the thiolate-heme iron has a sensor function. All known heme-sensor proteins use a cysteine residue to bind heme. The first question is why cysteine is employed in this capacity. Ligation of heme with thiolate, the presence of redox- dependent ligand switches, fast heme dissociation rates from the heme-sensor proteins, and formation of 5-coordinated NO-Fe(II) heme complexes, appear to be common characteristics of heme-sensor proteins. The Cys-Pro (CP) motif may also be important for heme binding in some heme-sensor proteins. In this minireview, we summarize the inorganic and physicochemical characters of heme-sensor proteins, and include short comments on heme-regulated inhibitor (HRI), and neuronal PAS protein 2 (NPAS2), under study in our laboratory over the last several years. Some gas-sensing heme-sensor proteins, with thiolate-heme complexes, will also be briefly discussed.

Keywords: Thiolate-heme iron, heme-sensor, gas-sensor, nitric oxide, CP motif