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A supersecondary structure is a compact three-dimensional protein structure of several adjacent elements of a secondary structure that is smaller than a protein domain or a subunit. Supersecondary structures can act as nucleations in the process of protein folding. Examples include β-hairpins, α-helix hairpins, and β-α-β motifs.
β-sheets (composed of multiple hydrogen-bonded individual β-strands) are sometimes considered a secondary or supersecondary structure.