Why does folding speed matter?
"If the protein does not fold, in the vast majority of cases it will not have a function. So folding implies functionality. And speed of folding implies speed of achieving that functionality," he explained. "For a cell, that's very important, because if proteins are very slow folders, there is a time lag to when that function will be accessible to the cell."
Fast folders are also less susceptible to aggregation, or clumping together, so they work faster. Moreover, proteins that fold rapidly are more likely to fold correctly. Protein misfolding has been linked with diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Caetano-Anolls said, however, that this research makes an important contribution to understanding how molecules work. "The complexities of the biological functions of molecules are still poorly understood," he said.
"If we mix the world of molecular dynamics with the world of molecular evolution, we can then determine what aspects of sequences are important for molecular dynamics, and therefore, we can apply them to genetic engineering, synthetic biology, and so on."
|Contact: Susan Jongeneel|
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences