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ERIC Number: EJ1046258
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Introducing the Levinthal's Protein Folding Paradox and Its Solution
Martínez, Leandro
Journal of Chemical Education, v91 n11 p1918-1923 Nov 2014
The protein folding (Levinthal's) paradox states that it would not be possible in a physically meaningful time to a protein to reach the native (functional) conformation by a random search of the enormously large number of possible structures. This paradox has been solved: it was shown that small biases toward the native conformation result in realistic folding times of realistic-length sequences. This solution of the paradox is, however, not amenable to most chemistry or biology students due to the demanding mathematics. Here, a simplification of the study of the paradox and its solution is provided so that it is accessible to chemists and biologists at an undergraduate or graduate level. Despite its simplicity, the model captures some fundamental aspects of the protein folding mechanism and allows students to grasp the actual significance of the popular folding funnel representation of the protein energy landscape. The analysis of the folding model provides a rich basis for a discussion of the relationships between kinetics and thermodynamics on a fundamental level and on student perception of the time-scales of molecular phenomena.
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A