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Identification and characterization of metamorphic proteins: Current and future perspectives.

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Proteins that can reversibly alternate between distinctly different folds under native conditions are described as being metamorphic. The "metamorphome" is the collection of all metamorphic proteins in the proteome, but it remains unknown the extent to which the proteome is populated by this class of proteins. We propose that uncovering the metamorphome will require a synergy of computational screening of protein sequences to identify potential metamorphic behavior and validation through experimental techniques. This perspective discusses computational and experimental approaches that are currently used to predict and characterize metamorphic proteins as well as the need for developing improved methodologies. Since metamorphic proteins act as molecular switches, understanding their properties and behavior could lead to novel applications of these proteins as sensors in biological or environmental contexts.

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