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What does “local folding” means in secondary structure?

What does “local folding” means in secondary structure?


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I'm new to biology field, so I'm learning all kinds of biochemistry knowledge for a bioinformatics project. I've found a few definitions of secondary structure online. For example, I found this brief definition here:

A structure of a biological molecule characterized by the local folding within the biopolymer as a result of hydrogen bonding (within the biopolymer).

What does "local folding" mean here? More specifically, what does "local" in this context refer to? Thanks in advanced.


The most common examples of secondary structure in proteins are alpha helices and beta sheets, and the most important distinction between secondary and tertiary structure is that a single protein can have multiple "local structures", alpha helices and beta sheets, within its complete global structure. In contrast, a protein cannot have multiple "global structures" by definition.

In other words, a local structure can occur multiple times within a protein, while a global structure by definition can only occur once, and describes the complete shape of the protein.



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