Jul 16, 2022

Physicists use AI to find the most complex protein knots so far

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, nanotechnology, robotics/AI

The question of how the chemical composition of a protein—the amino acid sequence—determines its 3D structure has been one of the biggest challenges in biophysics for more than half a century. This knowledge about the so-called “folding” of proteins is in great demand, as it contributes significantly to the understanding of various diseases and their treatment, among other things. For these reasons, Google’s DeepMind research team has developed AlphaFold, an artificial intelligence that predicts 3D structures.

A team consisting of researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the University of California, Los Angeles, has now taken a closer look at these structures and examined them with respect to knots. We know knots primarily from shoelaces and cables, but they also occur on the nanoscale in our cells. Knotted proteins can not only be used to assess the quality of structure but also raise important questions about folding mechanisms and the evolution of proteins.

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