New Redesigned Zinc-Finger Proteins: Design Strategy and Its Application



The design of DNA-binding proteins for the specific control of the gene expression is one of the big challenges for several research laboratories in the post-genomic era. An artificial transcription factor with the desired DNA binding specificity could work as a powerful tool and drug to regulate the target gene. The zinc-finger proteins, which typically contain many fingers linked in a tandem fashion, are some of the most intensively studied DNA-binding proteins. In particular, the Cys2His2-type zinc finger is one of the most common DNA-binding motifs in eukaryotes. A simple mode of DNA recognition by the Cys2His2-type zinc-finger domain provides an ideal framework for designing proteins with new functions. Our laboratory has utilized several design strategies to create new zinc-finger peptides/proteins by redesigning the Cys2His2-type zinc-finger motif. This review focuses on the aspects of design strategies, mainly from our recent results, for the creation of artificial zinc-finger proteins, and discusses the possible application of zinc-finger technology for gene regulation and gene therapy.