Structural characterization of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) requires a concerted effort between experiments and computations by accounting for their conformational heterogeneity. Given the diversity of experimental tools providing local and global structural information, constructing an experimental restraint-satisfying structural ensemble remains challenging. Here, we use the disordered N-terminal domain (NTD) of the estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) as a model system to combine existing small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and hydroxyl radical protein footprinting (HRPF) data and newly acquired solvent accessibility data via D2O-induced fluorine chemical shifting (DFCS) measurements. A new set of DFCS data for the solvent exposure of a set of 12 amino acid positions were added to complement previously acquired HRPF measurements for the solvent exposure of the other 16 nonoverlapping amino acids, thereby improving the NTD ensemble characterization considerably. We also found that while choosing an initial ensemble of structures generated from a different atomic-level force field or sampling/modeling method can lead to distinct contact maps even when the same sets of experimental measurements were used for ensemble-fitting, comparative analyses from these initial ensembles reveal commonly recurring structural features in their ensemble-averaged contact map. Specifically, nonlocal or long-range transient interactions were found consistently between the N-terminal segments and the central region, sufficient to mediate the conformational ensemble and regulate how the NTD interacts with its coactivator proteins.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry