Functional anthology of intrinsic disorder. 1. Biological processes and functions of proteins with long disordered regions

Hongbo Xie, Slobodan Vucetic, Lilia M. Iakoucheva, Christopher J. Oldfield, A. Keith Dunker, Vladimir N. Uversky, Zoran Obradovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

392 Scopus citations


Identifying relationships between function, amino acid sequence, and protein structure represents a major challenge. In this study, we propose a bioinformatics approach that identifies functional keywords in the Swiss-Prot database that correlate with intrinsic disorder. A statistical evaluation is employed to rank the significance of these correlations. Protein sequence data redundancy and the relationship between protein length and protein structure were taken into consideration to ensure the quality of the statistical inferences. Over 200 000 proteins from the Swiss-Prot database were analyzed using this approach. The predictions of intrinsic disorder were carried out using PONDR VL3E predictor of long disordered regions that achieves an accuracy of above 86%. Overall, out of the 710 Swiss-Prot functional keywords that were each associated with at least 20 proteins, 238 were found to be strongly positively correlated with predicted long intrinsically disordered regions, whereas 302 were strongly negatively correlated with such regions. The remaining 170 keywords were ambiguous without strong positive or negative correlation with the disorder predictions. These functions cover a large variety of biological activities and imply that disordered regions are characterized by a wide functional repertoire. Our results agree well with literature findings, as we were able to find at least one illustrative example of functional disorder or order shown experimentally for the vast majority of keywords showing the strongest positive or negative correlation with intrinsic disorder. This work opens a series of three papers, which enriches the current view of protein structure-function relationships, especially with regards to functionalities of intrinsically disordered proteins, and provides researchers with a novel tool that could be used to improve the understanding of the relationships between protein structure and function. The first paper of the series describes our statistical approach, outlines the major findings, and provides illustrative examples of biological processes and functions positively and negatively correlated with intrinsic disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1882-1898
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Bioinformatics
  • Disorder prediction
  • Intrinsic disorder
  • Intrinsically disordered proteins
  • Protein function
  • Protein structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry

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