Amino Acids

"Golly gosh" ... so proteins are complex biological compounds made of amino acids,

... and amino acids are like molecules that have amine (groups that have Nitrogen as key atom) and carboxyl (groups characterized by the presence of carboxyl: -COOH) functioning groups. ?? So is N-COOH an amino acid? And three nucleotides arrange each amino acid?? GaH! Must... consult... wikipedia...

Amino Acids

In chemistry, an amino acid is any molecule that contains both amine and carboxyl functional groups. In biochemistry, this term is used to refer to alpha amino acids: molecules where the amino and carboxylate groups are attached to the same carbon, the α–carbon.

These alpha amino acids are the basic components of proteins. There are twenty standard amino acids used by cells in protein biosynthesis and these are specified by the general genetic code. These twenty amino acids can be biosynthesised from simpler molecules, but organisms differ in how many they are able to produce and essential amino acids must be obtained in their diet.

In proteins, an amino acid residue is what is left of an amino acid once a molecule of water has been lost (an H+ from the nitrogenous side and an OH- from the carboxylic side) in the formation of a peptide bond. These are the chemical bonds that links the amino acid monomers into a protein chain. Each different protein has a unique amino acid sequence that is known as its primary structure. Just as the letters of the alphabet can be combined in different ways to form an almost endless variety of words, amino acids can be linked together in varying sequences to form a huge variety of proteins. Each unique sequence of amino acids folds up to form a unique three-dimensional structure, the protein's tertiary structure. These tertiary structures determine the functions of proteins.

Amino acids are the basic structural building units of proteins. They form short polymer chains called peptides or longer chains either called polypeptides or proteins. The process of such formation from an mRNA template is known as translation, which is part of protein synthesis.

Some of the 20 standard proteinogenic amino acids are called essential amino acids because the human body cannot synthesize them from other compounds through chemical reactions, and they therefore must be obtained from food. Histidine and arginine are generally only considered essential in children, because the metabolic pathways that synthesize these amino acids are not fully developed in children. Also some amino acid supplements are said to be dangerous by dietitians since the human body needs a certain specific balance. So taking some single amino acid supplements will throw off this balance and can cause health problems. For further information please read Protein in nutrition.

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