Salt-Dependent Conformational Changes of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins

Samuel Wohl, Matthew Jakubowski, Wenwei Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The flexible structure of an intrinsically disordered protein (IDP) is known to be perturbed by salt concentrations, which can be understood by electrostatic screening on charged amino acids. However, an IDP usually contains more uncharged residues that are influenced by the salting-out effect. Here we have parametrized the salting-out effect into a coarse-grained model using a set of Förster resonance energy transfer data and verified with experimental salt-dependent liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) of 17 proteins. The new model can correctly capture the behavior of 6 more sequences, resulting in a total of 13 when varying salt concentrations. Together with a survey of more than 500 IDP sequences, we conclude that the salting-out effect, which was considered to be secondary to electrostatic screening, is important for IDP sequences with moderately charged residues at physiological salt concentrations. The presented scheme is generally applicable to other computational models for capturing salt-dependent IDP conformations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6684-6691
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 22 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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