, Volume 55, Issue 6, pp 1199-1210

Complexity of protein folding

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Abstract

It is believed that the native folded three-dimensional conformation of a protein is its lowest free energy state, or one of its lowest. It is shown here that both a two-and three-dimensional mathematical model describing the folding process as a free energy minimization problems is NP-hard. This means that the problem belongs to a large set of computational problems, assumed to be very hard (“conditionally intractable”). Some of the possible ramifications of this results are speculated upon.