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Fold Des. 1997;2(4):S69-75.

The Levinthal paradox: yesterday and today.

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Laboratoire de Chimie Biophysique, Institute le Bel, Universite Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France.


A change in the perception of the protein folding problem has taken place recently. The nature of the change is outlined and the reasons for it are presented. An essential element is the recognition that a bias toward the native state over much of the effective energy surface may govern the folding process. This has replaced the random search paradigm of Levinthal and suggests that there are many ways of reaching the native state in a reasonable time so that a specific pathway does not have to be postulated. The change in perception is due primarily to the application of statistical mechanical models and lattice simulations to protein folding. Examples of lattice model results on protein folding are presented. It is pointed out that the new optimism about the protein folding problem must be complemented by more detailed studies to determine the structural and energetic factors that introduce the biases which make possible the folding of real proteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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