Category Archives: Biophysics

Timescales, Kinetics, Rates, Half-lives in Biology

Understanding interactions between processes with different rates can made significantly easier when you know the approximate timescales or half-lives for those processes.   Comparing two processes (e.g. alpha helix folding of a peptide chain (micro seconds (10-6s)) and translation of a peptide chain ( milliseconds(10-3s))) if the timescales differ by more than a factor of 100 then you can reasonably assume that as the faster process is occurring, the slower process is standing still (i.e. not occurring). Equivalently you can assume that as the slower process is occuring the faster process occurs instantly. What this means for the example cited above is that the folding of a peptide chain can and does occur before translation of that peptide chain has finished.1-3

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