Over five decades of research have yielded a large body of information on how purified proteins attain their native state when refolded in the test tube, starting from a chemically or thermally denatured state. Nevertheless, we still know little about how proteins fold and unfold in their natural biological habitat: the living cell. Indeed, a variety of cellular components, including molecular chaperones, the ribosome, and crowding of the intracellular medium, modulate folding mechanisms in physiologically relevant environments. This review focuses on the current state of knowledge in protein folding in the cell with emphasis on the early stage of a protein's life, as the nascent polypeptide traverses and emerges from the ribosomal tunnel. Given the vectorial nature of ribosome-assisted translation, the transient degree of chain elongation becomes a relevant variable expected to affect nascent protein foldability, aggregation propensity and extent of interaction with chaperones and the ribosome.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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