The protein universe consists of a continuum of structures ranging from full order to complete disorder. As the structured part of the proteome has been intensively studied, stably folded proteins are increasingly well documented and understood. However, proteins that are fully, or in large part, disordered are much less well characterized. Here we collected NMR chemical shifts in a small database for 117 protein sequences that are known to contain disorder. We demonstrate that NMR chemical shift data can be brought to bear as an exquisite judge of protein disorder at the residue level, and help in validation. With the help of secondary chemical shift analysis we demonstrate that the proteins in the database span the full spectrum of disorder, but still, largely segregate into two classes; disordered with small segments of order scattered along the sequence, and structured with small segments of disorder inserted between the different structured regions. A detailed analysis reveals that the distribution of order/disorder along the sequence shows a complex and asymmetric distribution, that is highly protein-dependent. Access to ratified training data further suggests an avenue to improving prediction of disorder from sequence.
Keywords: NMR spectroscopy; chemical shift; data interpretation; intrinsically disordered proteins; protein conformation; statistical.