Intrinsically disordered proteins play diverse roles in cell signaling. Academic Article uri icon


  • Signaling pathways allow cells to detect and respond to a wide variety of chemical (e.g. Ca2+ or chemokine proteins) and physical stimuli (e.g., sheer stress, light). Together, these pathways form an extensive communication network that regulates basic cell activities and coordinates the function of multiple cells or tissues. The process of cell signaling imposes many demands on the proteins that comprise these pathways, including the abilities to form active and inactive states, and to engage in multiple protein interactions. Furthermore, successful signaling often requires amplifying the signal, regulating or tuning the response to the signal, combining information sourced from multiple pathways, all while ensuring fidelity of the process. This sensitivity, adaptability, and tunability are possible, in part, due to the inclusion of intrinsically disordered regions in many proteins involved in cell signaling. The goal of this collection is to highlight the many roles of intrinsic disorder in cell signaling. Following an overview of resources that can be used to study intrinsically disordered proteins, this review highlights the critical role of intrinsically disordered proteins for signaling in widely diverse organisms (animals, plants, bacteria, fungi), in every category of cell signaling pathway (autocrine, juxtacrine, intracrine, paracrine, and endocrine) and at each stage (ligand, receptor, transducer, effector, terminator) in the cell signaling process. Thus, a cell signaling pathway cannot be fully described without understanding how intrinsically disordered protein regions contribute to its function. The ubiquitous presence of intrinsic disorder in different stages of diverse cell signaling pathways suggest that more mechanisms by which disorder modulates intra- and inter-cell signals remain to be discovered.

published proceedings

  • Cell Commun Signal

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Bondos, S. E., Dunker, A. K., & Uversky, V. N.

citation count

  • 40

complete list of authors

  • Bondos, Sarah E||Dunker, A Keith||Uversky, Vladimir N

publication date

  • January 2022