The investigation of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) is a new frontier in structural and molecular biology that requires a new paradigm to connect structural disorder to function. Molecular dynamics simulations and statistical thermodynamics potentially offer ideal tools for atomic-level characterizations and thermodynamic descriptions of this fascinating class of proteins that will complement experimental studies. However, IDPs display sensitivity to inaccuracies in the underlying molecular mechanics force fields. Thus, achieving an accurate structural characterization of IDPs via simulations is a challenge. It is also daunting to perform a configuration-space integration over heterogeneous structural ensembles sampled by IDPs to extract, in particular, protein configurational entropy. In this review, we summarize recent efforts devoted to the development of force fields and the critical evaluations of their performance when applied to IDPs. We also survey recent advances in computational methods for protein configurational entropy that aim to provide a thermodynamic link between structural disorder and protein activity.


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