“Knowing the structure of a protein is key to understanding how it works and to targeting it with drugs. A small protein can consist of 100 amino acids, while some human proteins can be huge (1000 amino acids). The number of different ways even a small protein can fold is astronomical because there are so many degrees of freedom. Figuring out which of the many, many possible structures is the best one is regarded as one of the hardest problems in biology today and current methods take a lot of money and time, even for computers. Fold it attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans’ puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play competitively to fold the best proteins.”–Via
Fold It is a science-based puzzle game developed by biochemists. It is basically crowdfunded science–anyone can play the game; and, by completing an increasingly complex set of protein puzzles, you are contributing to ongoing scientific research, that can lead to the possible cure of cancer, AIDS, and many other diseases. We will use this game to study properties of proteins, how they behave, and the mechanics behind the chemical interactions that make them possible.
The first thing we have to do is to download the game here. (Keep in mind that Java applets have to be updated for the game to work on your device). After downloading the file, create an account. Once the account has been created and you are logged in, click this link, which is the group page of this lab; here you will click on ‘request membership‘. I’ll keep track of your progress in the game as an administrator of the group. The assignment will be completed once you unlock four achievements: sidechains, backbone packing, hydrogen bonding, hydrophobics and hydrophillics.