DARPA's puzzle game lets novice users share solutions for remodeling enzymes
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Foldit is a game with an online community of 240,000 players that allows non-experts and experts to collaborate and solve protein folding puzzles. Proteins are essential in most biological processes. The three-dimensional shape of the protein, which is essential to its function, is determined by protein folding. Solutions to these puzzles are sent to biochemistry labs to analyze for advances in protein design. Users have been successful in their attempts to functionally remodel the structure of a catalyst enzyme for Diels-Alder reactions, an important reaction in organic synthesis. The remodeling of the enzyme structure increases catalytic properties by 18 times, demonstrating that Foldit can be used not only for protein design, but also for protein function prediction, a complex challenge that cannot be solved by automation. Enzymes with significantly enhanced catalytic properties could lead to advances in organic synthesis and shorten production times for pharmaceuticals.
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