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Protein folding as an evolutionary process


  • Sharma, Vivek
  • Kaila, Ville R.I.
  • Annila, Arto


Protein folding is often depicted as a motion along descending paths on a free energy landscape that results in a concurrent decrease in the conformational entropy of the polypeptide chain. However, to provide a description that is consistent with other natural processes, protein folding is formulated from the principle of increasing entropy. It then becomes evident that protein folding is an evolutionary process among many others. During the course of folding protein structural hierarchy builds up in succession by diminishing energy density gradients in the quest for a stationary state determined by surrounding density-in-energy. Evolution toward more probable states, eventually attaining the stationary state, naturally selects steeply ascending paths on the entropy landscape that correspond to steeply descending paths on the free energy landscape. The dissipative motion of the non-Euclidian manifold is non-deterministic by its nature which clarifies why it is so difficult to predict protein folding.

Suggested Citation

  • Sharma, Vivek & Kaila, Ville R.I. & Annila, Arto, 2009. "Protein folding as an evolutionary process," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 388(6), pages 851-862.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:388:y:2009:i:6:p:851-862
    DOI: 10.1016/j.physa.2008.12.004

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    Cited by:

    1. Lucia, Umberto, 2013. "Thermodynamic paths and stochastic order in open systems," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 392(18), pages 3912-3919.
    2. Annila, Arto, 2016. "Natural thermodynamics," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 444(C), pages 843-852.
    3. Lucia, Umberto, 2013. "Stationary open systems: A brief review on contemporary theories on irreversibility," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 392(5), pages 1051-1062.
    4. Lucia, Umberto, 2016. "Econophysics and bio-chemical engineering thermodynamics: The exergetic analysis of a municipality," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 462(C), pages 421-430.
    5. Lucia, Umberto, 2014. "Entropy generation and the Fokker–Planck equation," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 393(C), pages 256-260.
    6. Umberto Lucia, 2014. "The Gouy-Stodola Theorem in Bioenergetic Analysis of Living Systems (Irreversibility in Bioenergetics of Living Systems)," Energies, MDPI, vol. 7(9), pages 1-23, September.
    7. Lucia, Umberto, 2015. "Quanta and entropy generation," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 419(C), pages 115-121.


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