Phys. Rev. Lett., 84, 3009-3012 (2000)
Role of Secondary Motifs in Fast Folding Polymers: A Dynamical
Amos Maritan, Cristian Micheletti and Jayanth R. Banavar
Link to online article.
A fascinating and open question challenging biochemistry, physics and
even geometry is the presence of highly regular motifs such as
$\alpha$-helices in the folded state of biopolymers and proteins.
Stimulating explanations ranging from chemical propensity to simple
geometrical reasoning have been invoked to rationalize the existence
of such secondary structures. We formulate a dynamical variational
principle for selection in conformation space based on the requirement
that the backbone of the native state of biologically viable polymers
be rapidly accessible from the denatured state. The variational
principle is shown to result in the emergence of helical order in