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Media Advisory 11-023

Researchers Discuss Sustainability, the Physics of Living Systems and the World Beyond

Mathematical and Physical Sciences lecture series for 2011-12 begins Monday, November 7

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Image showing a funnel landscape of an evolved protein.

Although researchers might know the sequence of a protein, in many cases how it folds into a 3-D shape remains a mystery. Current research aims to explain what shapes of energy landscapes lead to foldable proteins and how these are encoded in the sequence.

This image shows a funnel landscape of an evolved protein. At high temperature the protein configurations will be found near the top of the funnel, but they will suddenly fall to the bottom (as shown here) as the temperature falls below the folding temperature.

Credit: Peter Wolynes, Rice University, and The Royal Society (Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 15 February 2005 vol. 363 no. 1827 453-467)

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