Theory of protein folding

Current Opinion in Structural Biology
José Nelson Onuchic, Peter G Wolynes

Abstract

Protein folding should be complex. Proteins organize themselves into specific three-dimensional structures, through a myriad of conformational changes. The classical view of protein folding describes this process as a nearly sequential series of discrete intermediates. In contrast, the energy landscape theory of folding considers folding as the progressive organization of an ensemble of partially folded structures through which the protein passes on its way to the natively folded structure. As a result of evolution, proteins have a rugged funnel-like landscape biased toward the native structure. Connecting theory and simulations of minimalist models with experiments has completely revolutionized our understanding of the underlying mechanisms that control protein folding.

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