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Watching proteins fold and unfold one at a time. How physics can teach us lessons about biology

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Xavier Moya.

Proteins are linear polymers made up of just 20 naturally occurring amino acids. The genome projects produced a significant challenge for those studying proteins: we now know the linear, one-dimensional sequence of all proteins in the human body. Contained in this sequence is all the information required for the protein to fold to the correct, “native” structure, in a timescale which is reasonable, to perform a function within the cell, and, equally importantly, not to misfold to any alternative, possibly toxic, structure. The study of protein folding seeks to explain how proteins fold and avoid misfolding, and how the folded structure gives the protein its function. We use the tools of physics and chemistry, alongside those from molecular and structural biology. I will describe some of the recent progress we are making using methods that allow us to investigate one molecule at a time.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Science Society talks series.

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