Protein Folding

Topics: Protein folding, Protein, Chaperone Pages: 3 (717 words) Published: November 10, 2012
Proteins are one of the most important and are the most diverse of macromolecules as they carry out multiple functions, such as acting as enzyme catalysts and being used for transport (Alberts et al., 2009). They are composed of polypeptides, which are long chains of amino acids held together by peptide bonds (Alberts et al., 2009). The process whereby proteins form their 3-D conformation is known as protein folding. It is essential that proteins fold correctly as the shape of the protein determines its function and severe consequences can result if they are misfolded. A common thought was that protein folding was spontaneous, however, it has been realized that some proteins need assistance to form into their native state (Hartl, Hlodan, & Langer, 1994). Special proteins that aid in protein folding are known as molecular chaperones. The main role of molecular chaperones is to prevent misfolding and aggregation of proteins, however, they also help with refolding denatured proteins (Hartl, Hlodan, & Langer, 1994). In addition, they focus on reducing chances of off-pathway reactions to produce functional proteins (Hartl & Martin, 1993). Furthermore, hydrophobic portions of proteins are usually embedded in the centre of a folded protein, but are uncovered in partially folded polypeptide chains (Hartl, Hlodan, & Langer, 1994). Consequently, protein aggregates can be formed through the interaction of the hydrophobic portions on unfolded proteins (Hartl, Hlodan, & Langer, 1994). Thus, to avoid such interactions and allow proteins to fold correctly, chaperones shield the exposed hydrophobic surface, and isolate the unfolded protein from the cell surroundings (Hartl, Hlodan, & Langer, 1994). One main issue with protein folding is that misfolded proteins and protein aggregation are affiliated with diseases such as Huntington disease and Alzheimer disease (Alberts, et al., 2009). In recent studies, activation of the heat shock response was tested to see whether it...
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