Building Block Approaches to Nonlinear and Linear Macromolecules
Within biology, the class of molecules that carry out most of the functions of life are proteins. Proteins act as catalysts, sensors, membrane channels, pumps, motors, and computational elements. Proteins are chains of amino acids that vary in length from 30 to 50 amino acids to those containing more than 1500 amino acids. Although proteins carry out an enormous array of functions, they are constructed from just 20 molecular building blocks. What distinguishes one protein from another is its precise sequence of amino acids. In order to carry out their functions, proteins must first fold into a well-defined, 3-D structure. The broad outlines of how and why proteins fold are understood; however, due to the complexity of the folding process, the details of how individual proteins fold still eludes us.