Sandbox mode / protein petting zoo
|Opened on:||Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 11:45|
|Last modified:||Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 20:44|
As a new player, I'd like to have examples of accurately folded real proteins, shown in the foldit interface. When playing foldit you never see solutions better than what the players can achieve. That means I'm building up some intuition for what looks "better" or "worse", but not an intuition for what the end goal would look like. That seems important for distinguishing a local minimum from a solution that's getting close to the real structure. I can look up protein structures in outside resources, but the display won't look like what I see in fold-it, and I can't interact with it like I would in foldit.
This could be done through a sandbox mode that allows players to access models of real, already-solved proteins, starting in their lowest-energy configurations, and play with them using the foldit interface. This mode would display the current configuration score, but would not be a scored puzzle. Of course, any manipulation would decrease the starting score, but this would allow players to practice distorting a protein, then restoring it as closely as possible to its proper state. The proteins available in this mode should be chosen to show a variety of common folding patterns.
In the longer term, I wonder if this feature could be expanded to a protein library with the ability to search for similar sequences and thread a section of a puzzle protein to a section of any protein in the library. That way, even if the protein doesn't closely match any known protein, threading could be used to easily create a secondary structures like a helix.