TOOLS: Protein Nonconformists

Science  02 Jul 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5680, pp. 23d
DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5680.23d

Instead of folding into a neat, three- dimensional structure, many proteins are free spirits. Parts or all of the molecule refuse to settle into a set shape, assuming a state researchers call “disordered.” Scientists are taking notice of this proclivity because disordered sections carry out tasks such as grasping DNA, and disordered proteins characterize Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses. These two sites from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, can help molecular biologists analyze disorder. DisEMBL pinpoints likely disordered regions in a protein or stretch of amino acids. GlobPlot gauges the tendency for disorder, a measure that might help pinpoint disordered regions and previously unrecognized ordered ones that perform particular functions.

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