They look like the doodlings of an abstract artist, but this gallery of exotic shapes provides nature's key to the intricate workings of all biological machinery. Protein structures such as these, comprised of elaborately folded strands of amino acids, are 3-D models of the fundamental building blocks of life, programmed to perform a specific function in the genome. In this issue we explore the complex world of proteins and protein folding, with an eye to the new generation of imaging resources and powerful new computational tools that are allowing scientists to decipher valuable information about how proteins work. Some images on cover courtesy the Protein Data Bank and SCOP library 1994-2000.
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