News of the WeekComputational Biology

Custom-Built Supercomputer Brings Protein Folding Into View

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Science  15 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6002, pp. 308-309
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6002.308-a

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The computing demands for simulating all the motions of a protein's atoms and the surrounding water are so high that scientists have had difficulty tracking the myriad atomic wiggles and gyrations for long enough to see the complete folding process. But on page 341 of this week's issue of Science, computational biologists report that they ran a specially built supercomputer for about 3 weeks to simulate a relatively small protein going through 15 rounds of folding and unfolding over 200 microseconds. They also tracked the folding gyrations of a similarly sized protein for more than a millisecond.