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The vast majority of our current knowledge about the biochemical and biophysical properties of proteins derives from in vitro studies conducted on isolated globular domains. However, a very large fraction of the proteins expressed in the eukaryotic cell are structurally more complex. In particular, the discovery that up to 40% of the eukaryotic proteins are intrinsically disordered, or possess intrinsically disordered regions, and are highly dynamic entities lacking a well-defined three-dimensional structure, revolutionized the structure-function paradigm and our understanding of proteins. Moreover, proteins are mostly characterized by the presence of multiple domains, influencing each other by intramolecular interactions. Furthermore, proteins exert their function in a crowded intracellular milieu, transiently interacting with a myriad of other macromolecules. In this review we summarize the literature tackling these themes from both the theoretical and experimental perspectives, highlighting the effects on protein folding and function that are played by (i) flanking disordered tails; (ii) contiguous protein domains; (iii) interactions with the cellular environment, defined as quinary structures. We show that, in many cases, both the folding and function of protein domains is remarkably perturbed by the presence of these interactions, pinpointing the importance to increase the level of complexity of the experimental work and to extend the efforts to characterize protein domains in more complex contexts.


Francesca Malagrinò, Valeria Pennacchietti, Daniele Santorelli, Livia Pagano, Caterina Nardella, Awa Diop, Angelo Toto, Stefano Gianni. On the Effects of Disordered Tails, Supertertiary Structure and Quinary Interactions on the Folding and Function of Protein Domains. Biomolecules. 2022 Jan 26;12(2)

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PMID: 35204709

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