The superfamily of RING finger (Really Interesting New Gene) domain and U-box domain
RING finger is a specialized type of Zn-finger of 40 to 60 residues that binds two atoms of zinc. It is defined by the "cross-brace" motif that chelates zinc atoms by eight amino acid residues, typically Cys or His, arranged in a characteristic spacing. Canonical RING motifs have been categorized as two major subclasses, RING-HC (C3HC4-type) and RING-H2 (C3H2C3-type), according to their Cys/His content. There are also many variants of RING fingers. Some have different Cys/His pattern. Some lack a single Cys or His residues at typical Zn ligand positions. Especially, the fourth or eighth zinc ligand is prevalently exchanged for an Asp, which can indeed chelate Zn in a RING finger as well. C4C4-, C3HC3D-, C2H2C4-, and C3HC5-type RING fingers are closely related to RING-HC finger. In contrast, C4HC3- (RING-CH alias RINGv), C3H3C2-, C3H2C2D-, C3DHC3-, and C4HC2H-type RING fingers are close to RING-H2 finger. However, not all RING finger-containing proteins display regular RING finger features, and the RING finger family has turned out to be multifarious. The degenerated RING fingers from Siz/PIAS RING (SP-RING) family proteins and sporulation protein RMD5, are characterized by lacking the second, fifth, and sixth Zn2+ ion-coordinating residues. They bind only one Zn2+ ion. On the other hand, the RING fingers of the human APC11 and RBX1 proteins can bind a third Zn atom since they harbor four additional Zn ligands. U-box is a modified form of the RING finger domain that lacks metal chelating Cys and His. It resembles the cross-brace RING structure consisting of three beta-sheets and a single alpha-helix, which would be stabilized by salt bridges instead of chelated metal ions. U-box proteins are widely distributed among eukaryotic organisms and show a higher prevalence in plants than in other organisms. RING finger/U-box-containing proteins are a group of diverse proteins with a variety of cellular functions, including oncogenesis, development, viral replication, signal transduction, the cell cycle and apoptosis. Many of them are ubiquitin-protein ligases (E3s) that serves as a scaffold for binding to ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes (E2s, also referred to as ubiquitin carrier proteins or UBCs) in close proximity to substrate proteins, which enables efficient transfer of ubiquitin from E2 to the substrates.