Imagine that one day, instead of folding your clean laundry, you just dump it on your bed and, to your amazement, your shirts, sheets, and towels start folding themselves on their own. A minute later, the disorderly mound has turned into a neat pile of perfectly folded items. Don't expect to see this outside of a Harry Potter movie, but something just as impressive happens all the time inside your cells. Long, chainlike protein molecules fold up spontaneously and flawlessly into predetermined shapes. There are thousands of kinds of protein in the human body, each with a unique shape vital to its task. Without the power of protein folding, activity in any cell would quickly come to a halt.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.