Why should I fold?

Folding@Home is an important research effort that is a key step in combating many diseases. It works by simulating protein folding, which is how proteins are formed and how they interact with each other.

Proteins make up almost everything that is alive. They start as DNA, which is then transcribed into mRNA, which is like a mirror copy of DNA. These mRNA strands are then fed into ribosomes, where tRNA translates them into individual amino acids. These amino acid chains get folded into functional proteins, which serve functions like glowing in the dark (luciferase), fighting cancer (p53), and forming skin, hair, nails, and fur (keratin).

Proteins are usually thousands of atoms large, and some even number in the millions, so this isn't just a standard high school chemistry class. The complex folding process and how they interact cannot be determined in any other way than computerized folding. This allows researchers to efficiently determine their structure and function and how they interact. It also reveals hidden binding sites for new drugs and inhibitors, which is the reason why Folding@Home has made significant contributions towards COVID-19, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, prions, and more.

COVID-19 is an RNA-based virus. It enters the host cell and injects its payload of mRNA, which is translated repeatedly into proteins that self-assemble into even more viruses. However, as new binding sites are discovered in these viral proteins, self-assembly can be halted and a cure can be found.

So these are the basics of biology and proteins, and the reason why Folding@Home has a significant impact on society and medical research.

We hope you’ll be able to join Folding@SiliconValley at team 251691!