In recent years, IDPs (intrinsically disordered proteins) have emerged as pivotal actors in biology. Despite IDPs being present in all kingdoms of life, they are more abundant in eukaryotes where they are involved in the vast majority of regulation and signalling processes. The realization that, in some cases, functional states of proteins were partly or fully disordered was in contradiction to the traditional view where a well defined three-dimensional structure was required for activity. Several experimental evidences indicate, however, that structural features in IDPs such as transient secondary-structural elements and overall dimensions are crucial to their function. NMR has been the main tool to study IDP structure by probing conformational preferences at residue level. Additionally, SAXS (small-angle X-ray scattering) has the capacity to report on the three-dimensional space sampled by disordered states and therefore complements the local information provided by NMR. The present review describes how the synergy between NMR and SAXS can be exploited to obtain more detailed structural and dynamic models of IDPs in solution. These combined strategies, embedded into computational approaches, promise the elucidation of the structure–function properties of this important, but elusive, family of biomolecules.

You do not currently have access to this content.