Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Clever Cells know How to Correct Misfolded Proteins

If something goes wrong in protein folding, “simple” organisms are able to correct it. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

When a protein is misfolded, bacteria, fungi and plants are able to correct it. This is something that researchers in their white coats and expensive equipment cannot do.

These “simple” organisms are able to first detect misfolded proteins, then untangle them and finally fold them again – this time correctly.

This does not sound like evolution at all, although a recent review article in Science claims that “the cells of bacteria, plants, and fungi have evolved machinery to neatly extract polypeptide chains from large aggregates and refold them to the native state.”

There is a more logical explanation to this than appealing to evolution that, after all, is supposed to be blind. In real life, machines do not evolve: they are designed, often very intelligently. Moreover, nanomachines are designed much more intelligently than the machines we humans have invented.


Saibil, Helen R. 2013. Machinery to Reverse Irreversible Aggregates. . Science 339 (6123), 1040-1041.