Protein Folding

I read with interest your report on protein folding.1 You cited C. Levinthal, Journal of Chemical Physics, 65:44-5, 1968 to illustrate the difficulty in the folding problem: "[Levinthal's paradox] says, let each amino acid residue in a small, 100-residue protein have six possible conformations. To ...." There are two things terribly wrong with what you wrote. First, the journal in question is Journal de Chimie Physique et de Physico-Chimie Biologique, a French journal, not the American Journal

Herbert Cheung
Feb 1, 1999

I read with interest your report on protein folding.1 You cited C. Levinthal, Journal of Chemical Physics, 65:44-5, 1968 to illustrate the difficulty in the folding problem: "[Levinthal's paradox] says, let each amino acid residue in a small, 100-residue protein have six possible conformations. To ...." There are two things terribly wrong with what you wrote. First, the journal in question is Journal de Chimie Physique et de Physico-Chimie Biologique, a French journal, not the American Journal of Chemical Physics, as you reported. Second, Levinthal did not in the cited paper say anything like what you described. The two errors have been committed in numerous textbooks and published papers over the years. I surmise that the erroneous information printed in your article was given to you by either someone at the meeting or an ignorant scientist here.

For years, I have been telling my students these two errors....

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