Importance of knowing tertiary structure

Christian Barrett cbarrett at
Thu Jul 10 13:05:52 EST 1997

>On 9 Jul 1997, Christian Barrett wrote:
>> With this post I would like to generate a response from the community
>> about the impact of a successful computational method for determining
>> protein tertiary structure.  I am interested in the scope of its 
>> application; in how many (and which) different academic/industrial 
>> research areas would it have a profound effect?  And, what would this
>> effect be?  Put another way, how would the world be changed?
>> Do you know of any reviews that address this question?
>This sounds a bit like an exam question to me. Do you have a real
>in this subject or are you looking for us to write an essay?
>John MacFarlane

No, this is not an exam question.  For the most part, I'm aware of the
importance of protein structure.  But I don't know everything and 
sometimes learn of new (to me) uses associated with knowing 3D structure.
For instance, last year I heard a talk by James Wells about minimizing
proteins.  Because I don't work at Genetech or deal with making drugs
by protein engineering, I would have never thought about the need to 
minimize a protein. And for this work, knowing the 3D structure was
fundamental.  But to get the 3D structure after every redesign of the 
protein required xray crystallography.  So I see were an accurate
structure prediction method would have helped here (protein design
and saving time).

I've heard many times that the ability to predict a protein's structure
would amount to the greatest advance of our time in molecular biology.
Given all that is happening in the field these days, I was just looking
for some justification of this statement.


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