Behind the folding funnel diagram

Nat Chem Biol. 2011 Jun 17;7(7):401-4. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.565.


This Commentary clarifies the meaning of the funnel diagram, which has been widely cited in papers on protein folding. To aid in the analysis of the funnel diagram, this Commentary reviews historical approaches to understanding the mechanism of protein folding. The primary role of free energy in protein folding is discussed, and it is pointed out that the decrease [corrected] in the configurational entropy as the native state is approached hinders folding, rather than guiding it. Diagrams are introduced that provide a less ambiguous representation of the factors governing the protein folding reaction than the funnel diagram.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Entropy
  • Kinetics
  • Mathematical Computing
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Folding*


  • Peptides