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Why are Van der Waals interactions important to the tertiary structure of proteins?
(or forces) help to keep things together in a very short space. When it comes to protein structures this means that a protein has to be in a particular shape in order to function correctly. Van der Waals forces are able to do this be causing slight differences in the instantaneous dipole moment of two parts of the protein chain and allowing these two parts to become "magnetically" linked together. It is because of this linking that proteins are able to fold into the different structures that allow them to function in the organism they occupy.