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Structural Bioinformatics, 2nd Edition by Philip E. Bourne, Jenny Gu

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FUNDAMENTALS OF PROTEIN STRUCTURE

Eric D. Scheeff and J. Lynn Fink

THE IMPORTANCE OF PROTEIN STRUCTURE

Most of the essential structures and functions of cells are mediated by proteins. These large, complex molecules exhibit a remarkable versatility that allows them to perform a myriad of activities that are fundamental to life. Indeed, no other type of biological macromolecule could possibly assume all of the functions that proteins have amassed over billions of years of evolution.

Any consideration of protein function must be grounded in an understanding of protein structure. A fundamental principle in all of protein science is that protein structure leads to protein function. The distinctive structures of proteins allow the placement of particular chemical groups in specific places in three-dimensional space. It is this precision that allows proteins to act as catalysts (enzymes) for an impressive variety of chemical reactions. Precise placement of chemical groups also allows proteins to play important structural, transport, and regulatory functions in organisms. Since protein structure leads to function and protein functions are diverse, it is no surprise that protein structure is similarly diverse. Further, the functional diversity of proteins is expanded through the interaction of proteins with small molecules, as well as other proteins.

For those who wish to study protein structure, this diversity represents a challenge. Upon their determination of the first three-dimensional ...

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