puzzle picture
1507: Malaria Vaccine Design
Status: Closed


Name: 1507: Malaria Vaccine Design
Status: Closed
Created: 04/10/2018
Points: 0
Expired: 04/17/2018 - 23:00
Difficulty: Intermediate
Description: Design a protein that could be used as a vaccine for malaria! Malaria is a deadly disease caused by the parasite P. falciparum, which makes circumsporozoite protein (CSP) to grow and infect human cells. The human immune system can combat malaria by producing antibodies that recognize CSP on the surface of the parasite. However, the immune system is not always successful, in part because CSP is a highly flexible protein that can exchange between different structures. It was recently discovered that human antibodies can protect against malarial infection if they bind to a CSP loop in a particular "vulnerable" structure; but antibodies targeting alternative structures of CSP do not halt infection. If we can design a protein that contains the CSP loop in the vulnerable conformation, the protein could be used as a vaccine to prepare the immune system against malaria (by raising antibodies that bind the vulnerable CSP structure)!

In this puzzle, Foldit players can design a protein that contains the CSP loop. The backbone of the CSP loop is frozen, but players can fold and design residues on either side of the loop. Also included, for context, is a frozen portion of an antibody that binds the CSP loop. Players begin with 60 designable residues, and can add up to 10 additional residues at a cost of 32 points per residue.

Note: This puzzle was closed early due to an error in the puzzle setup, which allowed the CSP to move in some circumstances. The puzzle has been reposted as Puzzle 1507b; players will not be able to load solutions from this puzzle into Puzzle 1507b.

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NinjaGreg's picture
User offline. Last seen 6 hours 12 min ago. Offline
Joined: 05/21/2010
Groups: Go Science
CSP loop moved, can't move it back

While I was experimenting with various things, the CSP loop moved out of position and the whole thing is now free-floating. Was it the intention that we design a free-floating protein, or was it that we design a protein that fits the CSP loop where it starts, but holds it there more firmly?

bkoep's picture
User offline. Last seen 2 days 43 min ago. Offline
Joined: 11/15/2012
Groups: None
Error in puzzle setup

Sorry about that! There was an error in the puzzle setup. The CSP loop should not be able to move at all; we'd like to players to design a protein around the loop, which should remain in its starting position.

Good catch! We'll repost the puzzle.

Joined: 12/01/2011
Groups: Go Science
Mutate all

Mutate all (Y) will result in a crash

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Developed by: UW Center for Game Science, UW Institute for Protein Design, Northeastern University, Vanderbilt University Meiler Lab, UC Davis
Supported by: DARPA, NSF, NIH, HHMI, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, RosettaCommons