Nowadays, special importance is attached to deciphering the structure of proteins. Proteins have several levels of structures:
- primary – a straight chain of monomer blocks;
- secondary – pieces of protein structure packed in standard units (spirals, globules, leaves);
- tertiary – a combination of several standard units in space;
- quaternary – when several protein molecules are intertwined together
Using the starting model – the primary structure of the protein, you can calculate its minimum energy. Researchers look at what it folds into in space to provide the greatest stability and thus determine the amount of minimum energy.
An ordinary protein molecule is very complex – it consists of one hundred amino acids and has a huge number of degrees of freedom. If one day mankind learns to accurately and quickly predict the structure of a protein by amino acid sequence, then this will make it possible to advance far in solving many medical and biological problems.
After all, it is violations in the structure of protein that often lead to various diseases. Such diseases are called molecular and currently several thousand have been discovered. Molecular ones include: Alzheimer’s disease, alimentary dystrophy, sickle cell anemia, and many others.
By deciphering the structure of the protein, we can understand what kind of medicine can cure these diseases. Experimentally calculating the structure of a protein is a very difficult and time-consuming task. If it were possible to anticipate it theoretically, it would accelerate progress in biology and medicine.
The very first protein structure was deciphered, the molecule of which contains only two polypeptide chains (21 and 30 amino acid residues, respectively). This simple protein was bovine insulin. Now scientists are able to decipher the structure of only small proteins of 30-40 amino acid residues and over time they plan to expand it to 100-200. At the moment, this is the main task of biology in the world.