Layperson asks: Folding@Home worthwhile?

guanxi guanxi_i at
Sat Mar 2 18:08:23 EST 2002

Thank you both for considered responses.  I think I'll leave it
running, in the absence of a good alternative use for the computing
cycles -- it will even save on heating, in the winter.

ffrank at (Frank Fürst wrote in message news:<87n0xskvil.fsf at>...
> 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

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