Evolution appears to optimize protein folding rates over time

Here is a very interesting article that appeared in the January 2013 edition of PLOS Computational Biology. To whet your appetite a little, here is the author's own summary:

"Nature has come up with an enormous variety of protein three-dimensional structures, each of which is thought to be optimized for its specific function. A fundamental biological endeavor is to uncover the driving evolutionary forces for discovering and optimizing new folds. A long-standing hypothesis is that fold evolution obeys constraints to properly fold into native structure. We here test this hypothesis by analyzing trends of proteins to fold fast during evolution. Using phylogenomic and structural analyses, we observe an overall decrease in folding times between 3.8 and 1.5 billion years ago, which can be interpreted as an evolutionary optimization for rapid folding. This trend towards fast folding probably resulted in manifold advantages, including high protein accessibility for the cell and a reduction of protein aggregation during misfolding."

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