Of late I've become interested in so-called intrinsically disordered proteins (IDP's).* These are proteins that contain one or more "significant" regions of sequence that are unstructured. "Significant" can range from perhaps ten or so residues, up to the entire protein. There are experimental data suggesting that the disordered regions in some of these are vital for function. It is generally thought that disordered regions important for function might undergo a folding reaction when bound by another protein, or a nucleic acid, or even a small molecule.
I'm interested in IDP's** because two of my favorite proteins have disordered domains that are essential for function and that do undergo the kind of folding upon binding mentioned above. This makes these proteins more interesting to me intellectually (not that they would be boring without disorder), but can also make them significantly more difficult to study than your garden variety well-folded, globular protein.
The IDP field is populated by large numbers of bioinformaticists (spawning my last post). There are also experimentalists and computational biologists (of the molecular simulation kind), but much of the initial driving force in creating this as a field appears to have come from the bioinformaticists. A small group of them.
Who are seriously over hyping the field.***
The hype being based largely on predictions of disorder. Predictions. Not much data. A prediction is just a pointer to something that might (or might not) be interesting. It's pretty much meaningless without experimental verification.
This is a problem. Yes, we all need to sell ourselves and our research. We all need to convince others that what we do is important and should receive gobs of funding $$$'s. But what you're selling has to have some connection to reality. A track record. Data.
Right now the IDP field has all the appearances of an infomercial for some kitchen gadget that is promised to mix, knead, puree, blend, chop, slice, dice, julienne, fry, roast, bake, boil, steam, load the dishwasher, sweep the floors, put the children to bed, and polish your shoes. Only believable in the wee hours of the morning after a long evening consuming copious quantities of the alcoholic beverage of your choice.
For now I'm keeping my credit card in my pocket.
* There are many, many recent reviews on the subject. This one is okay (and free).
** I seriously dislike the name "intrinsically disordered protein." For a start, the majority of the IDP's that have been identified are mostly well-structured and only have a fraction of their sequences disordered. I saw someone use the term "intrinsically disordered region." That's an improvement.
*** Case in point: the many, many reviews. Many, many of which were authored/co-authored by this guy. Dude, enough already. Go spend some time in the lab generating new data.