BIO IT World points to an article at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute website that highlights a recent success researchers there had prediction structure of a naturally occurring globular protein using only its amino acid sequence.
A detailed understanding of a protein’s structure can offer scientists a wealth of information – revealing intricacies about the protein’s biological function and suggesting new ideas for drug design. Researchers often rely on x-ray crystallography to determine a protein’s structure – bombarding the molecule with x-rays and analyzing the resulting diffraction pattern to piece together its structure. But not all proteins are amenable to this time-consuming technique, and those that are do not always yield the atomic-level data researchers would like to have.
…The complex algorithms the researchers developed to carry out these analyses demand a tremendous amount of computing power. More than 150,000 home computer users around the world were an integral part of the project, volunteering their computers to participate in the quest for protein structures through Rosetta@home, a distributed computing project that is based on the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) platform.
The results use computational techniques described by HHMI investigator David Baker in an October 14, 2007, advance online publication in the journal Nature.