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    Order from Disorder

    Richard W. Kriwacki, PhD

    Richard W. Kriwacki, PhD

    St. Jude investigators have demonstrated for the first time that--contrary to the assumption that proteins must maintain a rigid structure in order to perform an assigned task--many proteins exploit disorderliness in their structure to perform various jobs. The research findings appeared in the April 2004 Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

    The St. Jude finding explains how many proteins can adapt their structures to the needs of the moment, binding to different molecules depending on the job at hand.

    "The potential importance of disorder in the function of some proteins has been discussed by researchers for several years," said Richard Kriwacki, PhD, of St. Jude Structural Biology, the report's senior author. "But until now no one had actually demonstrated how such flexibility allows a protein to interact with different molecules. We've taken a big step in understanding the subtle details of a critical biochemical process in the life of the cell."