Unification of the ferritin family of proteins

M. J. Grossman, S. M. Hinton, V. Minak-Bernero, C. Slaughter, E. I. Stiefel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Ferritin is the iron-storage protein of eukaryotic organisms. The nucleotide sequence encoding Azotobacter vinelandii bacterioferritin, a hemoprotein, was determined. The deduced amino acid sequence reveals a high degree of identity with Escherichia coli bacterioferritin and a striking similarity to eukaryotic ferritins. Moreover, derivation of a global alignment shows that virtually all key residues specifying the unique structural motifs of eukaryotic ferritin are conserved or conservatively substituted in the A. vinelandii sequence. The alignment suggests specific methionine residues as heme-binding ligands in bacterioferritins. The overall sequence similarity with conservation of key structural residues implies that all ferritins form a unified family of proteins. The results implicate ferritins as proteins potentially common to all aerobic organisms and as such useful in taxonomic classification, evolutionary analysis, and environmental monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2419-2423
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • AIDS
  • Aerobic organisms
  • Heme protein
  • Iron metabolism
  • Iron storage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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