PERSPECTIVES AND OVERVIEW For a physical chemist there is probably nothing more fascinating in the realm of biology than the spontaneous formation of complex, detailed molecular structures and higher-order biological complexes. Proteins have a role in a large fraction of self-assembling systems. Initially they fold spontaneously to form three-dimensional structures based on the self recÂ ognition of their own sequences; thereafter they have the capacity to interact with other proteins (or other types of molecules) to form complexes or higher-order structures. One of the key problems in molecular biology today is to understand the physical forces and mechanistic pathways that lead to folded proteins and to the great variety of subcellular assemblies that have been discovered in living systems. Studies of the basic process of the folding of a polypeptide chain into a specific three-dimensional, native structure are probably destined to be central to our understanding not only of assembly processes but of bioÂ logical interactions in general. This is not because proteins belong to a class of special importance, but because so much quantitative information 115 0883-9182/87/0610--0115$02.00 SCHELLMAN is. available to test mechanistic ideas. Protein folding is clearly defined and is. easily produced in the laboratory for
Annual Review of Biophysics – Annual Reviews
Published: Jun 1, 1987
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