Moonlighting proteins comprise a class of multifunctional proteins in which a single polypeptide chain performs multiple physiologically relevant biochemical or biophysical functions. Almost 300 proteins have been found to moonlight. The known examples of moonlighting proteins include diverse types of proteins, including receptors, enzymes, transcription factors, adhesins and scaffolds, and different combinations of functions are observed. Moonlighting proteins are expressed throughout the evolutionary tree and function in many different biochemical pathways. Some moonlighting proteins can perform both functions simultaneously, but for others, the protein's function changes in response to changes in the environment. The diverse examples of moonlighting proteins already identified, and the potential benefits moonlighting proteins might provide to the organism, such as through coordinating cellular activities, suggest that many more moonlighting proteins are likely to be found. Continuing studies of the structures and functions of moonlighting proteins will aid in predicting the functions of proteins identified through genome sequencing projects, in interpreting results from proteomics experiments, in understanding how different biochemical pathways interact in systems biology, in annotating protein sequence and structure databases, in studies of protein evolution and in the design of proteins with novel functions.

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