A question of perspective

by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen

Paradigms are meant to be broken. In the 1980s, biology students were taught "the one gene = one protein" dogma which has since stepped down from its pedestal, as we now know that one gene, by way of any number of post-translational modifications on the protein sequence, can actually give rise to more than one protein. Or what would be more correct: to more than one function. In the same way, structural biologists are beginning to realise that proteins are not always stable but that a significant amount exist in particularly unstable forms - which has given them the name "disordered proteins". Until recently, proteins were thought to fold up into thermodynamically stable forms before getting on with what they had to do. Now we know that it is not necessarily the case. Eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 2, for instance, is one such disordered protein whose lack of stability gives rise to a new kind of biological regulation.

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Protein Spotlight (ISSN 1424-4721) is a monthly review written by the Swiss-Prot team of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Spotlight articles describe a specific protein or family of proteins on an informal tone. Follow us: Subscribe · Twitter · Facebook

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