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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 May 26;95(11):5921-8.

Folding funnels and frustration in off-lattice minimalist protein landscapes.

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Department of Physics, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0319, USA.


A full quantitative understanding of the protein folding problem is now becoming possible with the help of the energy landscape theory and the protein folding funnel concept. Good folding sequences have a landscape that resembles a rough funnel where the energy bias towards the native state is larger than its ruggedness. Such a landscape leads not only to fast folding and stable native conformations but, more importantly, to sequences that are robust to variations in the protein environment and to sequence mutations. In this paper, an off-lattice model of sequences that fold into a beta-barrel native structure is used to describe a framework that can quantitatively distinguish good and bad folders. The two sequences analyzed have the same native structure, but one of them is minimally frustrated whereas the other one exhibits a high degree of frustration.

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