Guest post from Dr. Gregory Bowman, University of California, Berkeley
One objective of the Folding@home project is to provide insight into general protein folding mechanisms that hold across a variety of systems. For example, how much slower, on average, do longer proteins take to fold than shorter ones? To address questions like this, Lane and Pande recently developed a theoretical framework for testing different models of the scaling of protein folding times with chain length against experimental observations (line here). One of their major conclusions is that there is insufficient data to distinguish between many of the possible models. All is not lost though. The framework they developed also allows them to point out the types of measurements that need to be made to conclusively determine which of the models that have been proposed is best. In the future, it will be exciting to begin both computational and experimental studies of these systems.