Layperson asks: Folding@Home worthwhile?

Frank Fürst ffrank at
Fri Mar 1 13:12:02 EST 2002

dek at (David Konerding, Ph.D.) schrieb:

> On 1 Mar 2002 08:24:54 -0800, guanxi <guanxi_i at> wrote:
> > My question is, how likely is it that this project will provide some
> > significant benefit to the world?
> Moderately likely.  Some people believe that if a technical solution to
> "the protein folding problem" (IE, we can predict the structure of a
> protein given its sequence) we will be able to engineer proteins with
> novel functions; useful in material engineering, pharmaceuticals, and
> various other industries.  The reality is that the proteins
> Folding at Home are folding up are small, and most "interesting" proteins
> with relevant functions are larger

Well, I think that simulation of biological macromolecules as added a
lot to our knowledge how they behave. And that _is_ useful
knowledge. Even for problems concerning really big proteins, one has to
know the principles, and simulation has shed light on these.

> and don't follow the same rules of
> protein folding (for example, they might only fold properly with the
> help of other proteins, or they have extra functional groups after they
> fold,

Oh, I'd say they do follow the same rules, it's just that the case is
more complicated - and sometimes the rules state that a chaperone
protein is necessary. But they don't break the rules. Furthermore, are
there any proteins that absolutely require chaperones to fold, even at
ideal conditions (correct - usually low - protein concentration,
temperature, ionic strength). I'm not expecting 100% folding yield, but
at least some native protein.

> or they don;t need to fold to operate).

Do you have examples?

Regarding Folding at Home, I'd say that it is useful if the particular
simulation approach and the simulated targets are well chosen - but I
can't jugde that. Perhaps a look into the literature helps.

Bye, Frank
sigmentation fault

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