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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2014 Feb;24:81-90. doi: 10.1016/j.sbi.2013.11.007. Epub 2014 Jan 14.

Comparing protein folding in vitro and in vivo: foldability meets the fitness challenge.

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  • 1Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, United States; Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, United States.
  • 2Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, United States; Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, United States; Department of Chemistry, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, United States. Electronic address: gierasch@biochem.umass.edu.

Abstract

In this review, we compare and contrast current knowledge about in vitro and in vivo protein folding. Major advances in understanding fundamental principles underlying protein folding in optimized in vitro conditions have yielded detailed physicochemical principles of folding landscapes for small, single domain proteins. In addition, there has been increased research focusing on the key features of protein folding in the cell that differentiate it from in vitro folding, such as co-translational folding, chaperone-facilitated folding, and folding in crowded conditions with many weak interactions. Yet these two research areas have not been bridged effectively in research carried out to date. This review points to gaps between the two that are ripe for future research. Moreover, we emphasize the biological selection pressures that impact protein folding in vivo and how fitness drives the evolution of protein sequences in ways that may place foldability in tension with other requirements on a given protein. We suggest that viewing the physicochemical process of protein folding through the lens of evolution will unveil new insights and pose novel challenges about in-cell folding landscapes.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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