Flexibility and Disorder in Gene Regulation: LacI/GalR and Hox Proteins [Protein Structure and Folding]

September 4th, 2015 by Bondos, S. E., Swint-Kruse, L., Matthews, K. S.

To modulate transcription, a variety of input signals must be sensed by genetic regulatory proteins. In these proteins, flexibility and disorder are emerging as common themes. Prokaryotic regulators generally have short, flexible segments, whereas eukaryotic regulators have extended regions that lack predicted secondary structure (intrinsic disorder). Two examples illustrate the impact of flexibility and disorder on gene regulation: The prokaryotic LacI/GalR family, with detailed information from studies on LacI, and the eukaryotic family of Hox proteins, with specific insights from investigations of Ultrabithorax (Ubx). The widespread importance of structural disorder in gene regulatory proteins may derive from the need for flexibility in signal response and, particularly in eukaryotes, in protein partner selection.