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Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) are over-represented in major disease pathways and have attracted significant interest in understanding if and how they may be targeted using small molecules for therapeutic purposes. While most existing studies have focused on extending the traditional structure-centric drug design strategies and emphasized exploring pre-existing structure features of IDPs for specific binding, several examples have also emerged to suggest that small molecules could achieve specificity in binding IDPs and affect their function through dynamic and transient interactions. These dynamic interactions can modulate the disordered conformational ensemble and often lead to modest compaction to shield functionally important interaction sites. Much work remains to be done on further elucidation of the molecular basis of the dynamic small molecule–IDP interaction and determining how it can be exploited for targeting IDPs in practice. These efforts will rely critically on an integrated experimental and computational framework for disordered protein ensemble characterization. In particular, exciting advances have been made in recent years in enhanced sampling techniques, Graphic Processing Unit (GPU)-computing, and protein force field optimization, which have now allowed rigorous physics-based atomistic simulations to generate reliable structure ensembles for nontrivial IDPs of modest sizes. Such de novo atomistic simulations will play crucial roles in exploring the exciting opportunity of targeting IDPs through dynamic interactions.




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Computational Perspectives on Intrinsic Disorder-Based Functionality




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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.