The center of a protein that consists of the hydrophobic groups (naturally) packed into an almost crystalline state. Since this is the framework of the structure it is most often conserved by evolution. In other words, proteins might vary on their surfaces - where this will not affect the shape - but not inside.

Similar folds may therefore have similar core packing, although it is a sort of knapsack problem. Combinatorial arrangements of sidechains allow several different possible tilings (as it were). However, for a given set of residues there will be a few arrangements that fold swiftly and stably.

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