Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
The protein folding problem: global optimization of force fields
The evolutionary development of a theoretical approach to the protein folding problem, in our laboratory, is traced. The theoretical foundations and the development of a suitable empirical all-atom potential energy function and a global optimization search are examined. Whereas the all-atom approach has thus far succeeded for relatively small molecules and for α-helical proteins containing up to 46 residues, it has been necessary to develop a hierarchical approach to treat larger proteins. In the hierarchical approach to single- and multiple-chain proteins, global optimization is carried out for a simplified united residue (UNRES) description of a polypeptide chain to locate the region in which the global minimum lies. Conversion of the UNRES structures in this region to all-atom structures is followed by a local search in this region. The performance of this approach in successive CASP blind tests for predicting protein structure by an ab initio physics-based method is described. Finally, a recent attempt to compute a folding pathway is discussed.