Zinc finger proteins containing the Kruppel associated box (KRAB-ZFPs) constitute the largest individual family
of transcriptional repressors encoded by the genomes of higher organisms. KRAB domain, positioned at the NH2 terminus
of the KRAB-ZFPs, interacts with a scaffold protein, KAP-1, which is able to recruit various transcriptional factors
causing repression of genes to which KRAB ZFPs bind. The relevance of such repression is reflected in the large number
of the KRAB zinc finger protein genes in the human genome. However, in spite of their numerical abundance little is currently
known about the gene targets and the physiological functions of KRAB- ZFPs. However, emerging evidence links
the transcriptional repression mediated by the KRAB-ZFPs to cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis and cancer.
Moreover, the fact that KRAB containing proteins are vertebrate-specific suggests that they have evolved recently, and
that their key roles lie in some aspects of vertebrate development. In this review, we will briefly discuss some regulatory
functions of the KRAB-ZFPs in different physiological and pathological states, thus contributing to better understand their
Keywords: Apoptosis, Evolution, KAP-1 corepressor, KRAB domain, Metabolism, Transcriptional repression, Zinc finger.
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