Folding: What are Protein Structures Like?
Once the protein chain has been made it must fold up properly before
it can do its job. We think that all the information needed to tell
how to fold up properly is contained in the sequence of amino
acids that make up the chain. Protein structures often contain long
stretched out chains of
amino acids called strands that line up together to make sheets.
These are called beta strands and the sheets are called beta sheets.
Proteins can also contain curled up spiral structures called alpha
helices. A protein may contain either or both alpha helices and beta
sheets. Alpha helices and beta sheets are joined by less clear
structures often grouped together under the name of "coil". Some
small proteins may be made entirely of coil!
It is the grouping of certain amino acids on the surface of proteins
that allows them to do their jobs.
Proper folding is very important as it brings these amino acids
together in just the right pattern for them to work properly. Finding
out the structure of proteins tells you a lot about how they perform
their tasks in the cell.
Take a roller coaster ride along a folded protein structure by following