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REVIEW: Protein Folding: Nucleation and Compact Intermediates

O. B. Ptitsyn

Institute of Protein Research, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino, Moscow Region, 142292 Russia; fax: (095) 924-0493; E-mail: ptitsyn@sun.ipr.serpukhov.su

Received August 27, 1997
Experimental and theoretical studies of protein folding have led now to understanding some basic principles of this process. In the simplest case of two-state folding it starts from the formation of the folding nucleus which immediately grows up embracing the whole protein molecule. However, typically folding occurs through a compact intermediate which has some native-like features of its 3D-structure. It is possible that also in these cases the folding nucleus is involved in the transition state between unfolded chain and compact intermediate.
KEY WORDS: protein folding, nucleation--growth mechanism, intermediate states, molten globule, transition states