Crystal structure of human Gadd45 reveals an active dimer

Wenzheng Zhang, Sheng Fu, Xuefeng Liu, Xuelian Zhao, Wenchi Zhang, Wei Peng, Congying Wu, Yuanyuan Li, Xuemei Li, Mark Bartlam, Zong Hao Zeng, Qimin Zhan, Zihe Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The human Gadd45 protein family plays critical roles in DNA repair, negative growth control, genomic stability, cell cycle checkpoints and apoptosis. Here we report the crystal structure of human Gadd45, revealing a unique dimer formed via a bundle of four parallel helices, involving the most conserved residues among the Gadd45 isoforms. Mutational analysis of human Gadd45 identified a conserved, highly acidic patch in the central region of the dimer for interaction with the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), p21 and cdc2, suggesting that the parallel dimer is the active form for the interaction. Cellular assays indicate that: (1) dimerization of Gadd45 is necessary for apoptosis as well as growth inhibition, and that cell growth inhibition is caused by both cell cycle arrest and apoptosis; (2) a conserved and highly acidic patch on the dimer surface, including the important residues Glu87 and Asp89, is a putative interface for binding proteins related to the cell cycle, DNA repair and apoptosis. These results reveal the mechanism of self-association by Gadd45 proteins and the importance of this self-association for their biological function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)814-826
Number of pages13
JournalProtein and Cell
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA repair
  • Gadd45
  • apoptosis
  • crystal structure
  • dimer
  • growth inhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Drug Discovery
  • Cell Biology


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