Structural biases in disordered proteins are prevalent in the cell

David Moses, Karina Guadalupe, Feng Yu, Eduardo Flores, Anthony R. Perez, Ralph McAnelly, Nora M. Shamoon, Gagandeep Kaur, Estefania Cuevas-Zepeda, Andrea D. Merg, Erik W. Martin, Alex S. Holehouse, Shahar Sukenik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Intrinsically disordered proteins and protein regions (IDPs) are prevalent in all proteomes and are essential to cellular function. Unlike folded proteins, IDPs exist in an ensemble of dissimilar conformations. Despite this structural plasticity, intramolecular interactions create sequence-specific structural biases that determine an IDP ensemble’s three-dimensional shape. Such structural biases can be key to IDP function and are often measured in vitro, but whether those biases are preserved inside the cell is unclear. Here we show that structural biases in IDP ensembles found in vitro are recapitulated inside human-derived cells. We further reveal that structural biases can change in a sequence-dependent manner due to changes in the intracellular milieu, subcellular localization, and intramolecular interactions with tethered well-folded domains. We propose that the structural sensitivity of IDP ensembles can be leveraged for biological function, can be the underlying cause of IDP-driven pathology or can be used to design disorder-based biosensors and actuators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-292
Number of pages10
JournalNature Structural and Molecular Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


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