Protein folding

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Protein folding is the physical process by which a polypeptide folds into its characteristic and functional three-dimensional structure from random coil.[1] Each protein exists as an unfolded polypeptide or random coil when translated from a sequence of mRNA to a linear chain of amino acids. This polypeptide lacks any developed three-dimensional structure (the left hand side of the neighboring figure). Amino acids interact with each other to produce a well-defined three-dimensional structure, the folded protein (the right hand side of the figure), known as the native state. The resulting three-dimensional structure is determined by the amino acid sequence (Anfinsen's dogma).[2]

The correct three-dimensional structure is essential to function, although some parts of functional proteins may remain unfolded[3] Failure to fold into the intended shape usually produces inactive proteins with different properties including toxic prions. Several neurodegenerative and other diseases are believed to result from the accumulation of misfolded (incorrectly folded) proteins.[4] Many allergies are caused by the folding of the proteins, for the immune system does not produce antibodies for certain protein structures.[5]

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