In biochemistry, a protein dimer is a macromolecular complex formed by two protein monomers, or single proteins, which are usually non-covalently bound. Many macromolecules, such as proteins or nucleic acids, form dimers. The word dimer has roots meaning "two parts", di- + -mer. A protein dimer is a type of protein quaternary structure.
A protein homodimer is formed by two identical proteins. A protein heterodimer is formed by two different proteins.
Most protein dimers in biochemistry are not connected by covalent bonds. An example of a non-covalent heterodimer is the enzyme reverse transcriptase, which is composed of two different amino acid chains. An exception is dimers that are linked by disulfide bridges such as the homodimeric protein NEMO.
Some proteins contain specialized domains to ensure dimerization (dimerization domains) and specificity.
- Transcription factors
- Leucine zipper motif proteins
- 14-3-3 proteins
- Variable surface glycoproteins of the Trypanosoma parasite
- Some clotting factors
- Some receptors
- Some enzymes
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