Trace metals are inorganic elements that are required for all organisms in very low quantities. They serve as cofactors and activators of metalloproteins involved in a variety of key cellular processes. While substantial effort has been made in experimental characterization of metalloproteins and their functions, the application of bioinformatics in the research of metalloproteins and metalloproteomes is still limited. In the last few years, computational prediction and comparative genomics of metalloprotein genes have arisen, which provide significant insights into their distribution, function, and evolution in nature. This review aims to offer an overview of recent advances in bioinformatic analysis of metalloproteins, mainly focusing on metalloprotein prediction and the use of different metals across the tree of life. We describe current computational approaches for the identification of metalloprotein genes and metal-binding sites/patterns in proteins, and then introduce a set of related databases. Furthermore, we discuss the latest research progress in comparative genomics of several important metals in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, which demonstrates divergent and dynamic evolutionary patterns of different metalloprotein families and metalloproteomes. Overall, bioinformatic studies of metalloproteins provide a foundation for systematic understanding of trace metal utilization in all three domains of life.
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