he 3-dimensional structure of a protein is
intimately related to its function.
PASIEKA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

NATURE | NEWS

Proteins made to order

Researchers design proteins from scratch with predictable structures.

Jessica Marshall
07 November 2012

Proteins are an enormous molecular achievement: chains of amino acids that fold spontaneously into a precise conformation, time after time, optimized by evolution for their particular function. Yet given the exponential number of contortions possible for any chain of amino acids, dictating a sequence that will fold into a predictable structure has been a daunting task.

Now researchers report that they can do just that. By following a set of rules described in a paper published in Nature today1, a team from David Baker’s laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle has designed five proteins from scratch that fold reliably into predicted conformations. In a blind test, the team showed that the synthesized proteins closely match the predicted structures.

Read more: Proteins made to order : Nature News & Comment.

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