Zinc Finger Mini Model

A zinc finger is a short (~30 amino acid) protein motif that is often found in proteins that bind to DNA. Use our 3-D model of a zinc finger to discuss metal cofactors and common protein motifs.

Proteins with zinc fingers are one of the largest families of proteins found in the human genome. Each zinc finger is made up of a 2-stranded beta sheet and a short alpha helix. Its structure is stabilized by 2 cysteines and 2 histidines that bind to a single zinc atom.

This particular zinc finger structure is from the protein Zif268, a DNA binding protein that contains 3 consecutive zinc fingers. Side chains are displayed in ball-and-stick format, including the 4 side chains in complex with the zinc atom. The zinc atom is shown in green spacefill format. The backbone of the zinc finger is shown in white, with the α-Helix shown in red and the β-Sheet shown in yellow.

Jmol Zinc Finger
Open a computer Jmol image of the first of 3 zinc fingers of the Zif268 protein.

Molecule of the Month

The Molecule of the Month by scientist, author and artist Dr. David Goodsell includes an introduction to the structure and function of the chosen molecule and a discussion of its relevance to human health and welfare. Molecule of the Month articles are frequently referred to by teachers, students and researchers. More...