Protein folding problem solved?

David Jones jones at
Fri Jun 9 17:26:42 EST 1995

Clifford Beall (beall.3 at wrote:
> Hello all,

> In the June issue of the Johns Hopkins Alumni magazine (I only quote from
> the most authoritative scientific sources), it is claimed that the protein
> folding problem has been solved by two Hopkins researchers: Rajgopal
> Srinivasan and George Rose.  They have developed a computer program known
> as LINUS that it is claimed can predict the folding of soluble globular
> proteins.  The pictures that appear with the article are very impressive. 
> It seems like this could be a massive discovery.  Would anyone with
> knowledge of this work like to comment further?

Uh, oh...

There was a pretty extensive discussion on this topic in the
bionet.molbio.proteins newsgroup a month or two ago.

It seems that both George Rose's group and Ken Dill's group presented
similar approaches to the problem at a recent meeting in the U.S. - however
it must be realized that as I understand it at least (and my information
here is second hand), in neither case are they claiming to be able to
predict _tertiary_ structure. So if people are expecting a program which
takes an arbitrary sequence as input and generates as output a set of
coordinates correct to 1-2 A RMSD from the native conformation then they
are going to be disappointed. However, that shouldn't be taken as criticism
of the methods - the two groups do seem to be doing very well at the
levels of secondary and supersecondary structure, and that still
represents a very interesting development. It's not "the" solution to the
protein folding problem, though...

Of course detailed discussion will have to wait until the relevant papers
come out in print. I for one am looking forward to reading them.

This message was written, produced and executively directed by Dr David Jones
Address: Department of Biochemistry and |     Email: jones at
Molecular Biology, University College,  |       Tel: +44 171 387 7050 x3879
Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, U.K.     |       Fax: +44 171 380 7193

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