c-Type cytochromes are characterized by covalent attachment of haem to protein through thioether bonds between the vinyl groups of the haem and the thiols of a CXXCH motif. Proteins of this type play crucial roles in the biochemistry of the nitrogen cycle. Many Gram-negative bacteria use the Ccm (cytochrome c maturation) proteins for the post-translational haem attachment to their c-type cytochromes; in the present paper, we discuss the substrate specificity of the Ccm apparatus. The main conclusion is that the feature recognized and required in the apocytochrome is simply the two cysteines and the histidine of the haem-binding motif.

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