Many aspects of protein folding can be understood in terms of projections of the highly dimensional energy landscape onto a few (or even only one) particularly relevant coordinates. These free-energy surfaces can be probed conveniently from experimental differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) thermograms, as DSC provides a direct relation with the protein partition function. Free-energy surfaces thus obtained are consistent with two fundamental scenarios predicted by the energy-landscape perspective: () well-defined macrostates separated by significant free-energy barriers, in some cases, and, in many other cases, () marginal or even vanishingly small barriers, which furthermore show a good correlation with kinetics for fast- and ultrafast-folding proteins. Overall, the potential of DSC to assess free-energy surfaces for a wide variety of proteins makes it possible to address fundamental issues, such as the molecular basis of the barrier modulations produced by natural selection in response to functional requirements or to ensure kinetic stability.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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