The Protein Folding Problem

Finding out the structures of proteins is not easy. It often takes months, sometimes years to find the right mix of chemicals that will make your protein form crystals. We know that the information that tells proteins how to fold up is contained in their own sequences.

With all of the sequences being collected in big programs like the human genome project and from individual work it should be possible to predict the structure of a protein from its sequence. However, there is a problem with this approach. The code by which DNA instructs the cell to make proteins was worked out very quickly. No similar code in the amino acid sequence of proteins which tells them how to fold has been recognised yet. We do not completely understand how the amino acid sequence causes the folding of the protein. This puzzle is called the "Protein Folding Problem".