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Issue 1, 2012
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Intrinsically disordered regions have specific functions in mitochondrial and nuclear proteins

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Abstract

Proteins in general consist not only of globular structural domains (SDs), but also of intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs), i.e. those that do not assume unique three-dimensional structures by themselves. Although IDRs are especially prevalent in eukaryotic proteins, the functions are mostly unknown. To elucidate the functions of IDRs, we first divided eukaryotic proteins into subcellular localizations, identified IDRs by the DICHOT system that accurately divides entire proteins into SDs and IDRs, and examined charge and hydropathy characteristics. On average, mitochondrial proteins have IDRs more positively charged than SDs. Comparison of mitochondrial proteins with orthologous prokaryotic proteins showed that mitochondrial proteins tend to have segments attached at both N and C termini, high fractions of which are IDRs. Segments added to the N-terminus of mitochondrial proteins contain not only signal sequences but also mature proteins and exhibit a positive charge gradient, with the magnitude increasing toward the N-terminus. This finding is consistent with the notion that positively charged residues are added to the N-terminus of proteobacterial proteins so that the extended proteins can be chromosomally encoded and efficiently transported to mitochondria after translation. By contrast, nuclear proteins generally have positively charged SDs and negatively charged IDRs. Among nuclear proteins, DNA-binding proteins have enhanced charge tendencies. We propose that SDs in nuclear proteins tend to be positively charged because of the need to bind to negatively charged nucleotides, while IDRs tend to be negatively charged to interact with other proteins or other regions of the same proteins to avoid premature proteasomal degradation.

Graphical abstract: Intrinsically disordered regions have specific functions in mitochondrial and nuclear proteins

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Publication details

The article was received on 30 May 2011, accepted on 29 Jul 2011 and first published on 24 Aug 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C1MB05208J
Citation: Mol. BioSyst., 2012,8, 247-255
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    Intrinsically disordered regions have specific functions in mitochondrial and nuclear proteins

    K. Homma, S. Fukuchi, K. Nishikawa, S. Sakamoto and H. Sugawara, Mol. BioSyst., 2012, 8, 247
    DOI: 10.1039/C1MB05208J

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