Understanding protein multifunctionality: from short linear motifs to cellular functions


  • Zanzoni Andreas
  • Ribeiro Diogo
  • Brun Christine


  • Multifunctional proteins
  • Moonlighting proteins
  • Bioinformatics
  • Protein interaction networks
  • Molecular switch
  • Cell signalling regulation
  • Short linear motifs

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Moonlighting proteins perform multiple unrelated functions without any change in polypeptide sequence. They can coordinate cellular activities, serving as switches between pathways and helping to respond to changes in the cellular environment. Therefore, regulation of the multiple protein activities, in space and time, is likely to be important for the homeostasis of biological systems. Some moonlighting proteins may perform their multiple functions simultaneously while others alternate between functions due to certain triggers. The switch of the moonlighting protein’s functions can be regulated by several distinct factors, including the binding of other molecules such as proteins. We here review the approaches used to identify moonlighting proteins and existing repositories. We particularly emphasise the role played by short linear motifs and PTMs as regulatory switches of moonlighting functions.

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