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  • Protein Folding: Understanding One of the Fundamentals of Life
    This image illustrates how computational biology techniques can be used to help understand the characteristics needed to design effective drug compounds to fight disease.
    The image shows a portion of the surface of the reverse transcriptase enzyme of the HIV-I virus with a molecular model of an inhibitor drug compound bound to the enzyme's receptor pocket. An inhibitor drug blocks the action of the enzyme, disabling its function and thus crippling the virus. The colors mapped on the surface show extremes in the electrostatic potential of the surface and lines which represent the electrostatic field in the vicinity of the receptor pocket. In order to work, a potential inhibitor must have both the right shape and the right electrostatic characteristics to attach itself to the enzyme to disable it.


    Protein folding, illustrated using the protein Barnase as an example.
    This figure shows the protein in a completely unfolded (stretched) shape. The "unfolded" figures are hypothetical illustrations, one of the many possible unfolded states. The color in the folded image represent the secondary structures: red is alpha helix, blue is beta sheet. This figure is a schematic drawing, showing the fold as a ribbon on the protein backbone. Displaying all atoms (like in the "beads on a string" image) would prevent us from appreciating the fold.
    Barnase
    Barnase
    Barnase


    Protein folding, illustrated using Chymotrypsin Inhibitor 2 (CI-2).
    Chymotrypsin
    Chymotrypsin


    Click on either of the links to the right of the picture to download the fullsize image. Files have been compressed in zip format. A caption explaining content can be found beside each image.


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