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News Release 05-177

Team Scores a Success in Protein Folding

Experiment bears out computer predictions of large, complex protein shape

MLAc in the process of folding

An artist's impression of the protein MLAc in the process of folding.

October 5, 2005

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Scientists at Rice University have created a computer model that shows how a large, complex protein molecule folds into its final shape, and then verified their model's predictions in the laboratory. It is the first time anyone has accomplished that feat for a protein of such size.

"We know that misfolded proteins play a key but mysterious role in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes and a host of other diseases, so mapping the normal route a protein takes--and finding the off-ramps that might lead to misfolding--are vitally important," explained Rice University biochemist Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, one of the members of the research team.

The scientists reported their work this week in two back-to-back papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Texas Advanced Technology Program and the Welch Foundation.

For more information, see the Rice University news release.


Media Contacts
Jade Boyd, Rice University, (713) 348-6778, email:
M. Mitchell Waldrop, NSF, (703) 292-7752, email:

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