A Special Class of Proteins Offers Promising Targets for Drugs for Cancer and Alzheimer’s

July 1st, 2019 | Scientific American

Decades ago scientists identified a particular class of proteins driving illnesses from cancer to neurodegenerative disease. These “intrinsically disordered proteins” (IDPs) looked different from the proteins with rigid structures that were more familiar in cells. IDPs were shape shifters, appearing as ensembles of components that constantly changed configurations. This loose structure turns out to allow the IDPs to bring together a wide variety of molecules at critical moments, such as during a cell’s response to stress. Less flexible proteins tend to have a more limited number of binding partners. When IDPs do not function properly, disease can ensue…

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