Proteins, it appears, have taken Frank Sinatras "I Did It My Way" close to heart. A new study published in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) reveals how single proteins, each a few nanometers (billionths of a meter) long, fold to assume their final shape. It shows that even proteins having the same final shape achieve it by taking different routes.
Proteins are the fundamental components of all living cells. They start out as randomly shaped chains of amino acids and twist into a well-defined three-dimensional structure that determines their function. When this process goes awry, it can result in a wide variety of disorders, including some cancers.
For decades, scientists have pondered how proteins fold. The answer, it was long believed, could be obtained only through watching the folding process of individual proteins. Yet this presented a huge challenge since proteins are extremely small and constantly on the go.
Alex Smith | EurekAlert!
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