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Proteins are an incredibly important part of any cell, and they carry out a number of functions such as support, storage and transport within the body. The monomers of proteins are called amino acids . An amino acid is an organic molecule that contains a carboxyl and an amino group, as well as a carbon side chain. The carbon side chain varies from one amino acid to the next, and is sometimes simply represented by the letter 'R' in a molecule's structural formula. [link] shows some examples of different amino acids.

Three amino acids: glycine, alanine and serine

Although each of these amino acids has the same basic structure, their side chains ('R' groups) are different. In the amino acid glycine, the side chain consists only of a hydrogen atom, while alanine has a methyl side chain. The 'R' group in serine is CH 2 - OH. Amongst other things, the side chains affect whether the amino acid is hydrophilic (attracted to water) or hydrophobic (repelled by water). If the side chain is polar , then the amino acid is hydrophilic, but if the side chain is non-polar then the amino acid is hydrophobic. Glycine and alanine both have non-polar side chains, while serine has a polar side chain.

Charged regions in an amino acid

In an amino acid, the amino group acts as a base because the nitrogen atom has a pair of unpaired electrons which it can use to bond to a hydrogen ion. The amino group therefore attracts the hydrogen ion from the carboxyl group, and ends up having a charge of +1. The carboxyl group from which the hydrogen ion has been taken then has a charge of -1. The amino acid glycine can therefore also be represented as shown in the figure below.

When two amino acid monomers are close together, they may be joined to each other by peptide bonds ( [link] ) to form a polypeptide chain. . The reaction is a condensation reaction. Polypeptides can vary in length from a few amino acids to a thousand or more. The polpeptide chains are then joined to each other in different ways to form a protein . It is the sequence of the amino acids in the polymer that gives a protein its particular properties.

The sequence of the amino acids in the chain is known as the protein's primary structure . As the chain grows in size, it begins to twist, curl and fold upon itself. The different parts of the polypeptide are held together by hydrogen bonds, which form between hydrogen atoms in one part of the chain and oxygen or nitrogen atoms in another part of the chain. This is known as the secondary structure of the protein. Sometimes, in this coiled helical structure, bonds may form between the side chains (R groups) of the amino acids. This results in even more irregular contortions of the protein. This is called the tertiary structure of the protein.

Two amino acids (glycine and alanine) combine to form part of a polypeptide chain. The amino acids are joined by a peptide bond between a carbon atom of one amino acid and a nitrogen atom of the other amino acid.

Interesting fact

There are twenty different amino acids that exist in nature. All cells, both plant and animal, build their proteins from only twenty amino acids. At first, this seems like a very small number, especially considering the huge number of different proteins that exist. However, if you consider that most proteins are made up of polypeptide chains that contain at least 100 amino acids, you will start to realise the endless possible combinations of amino acids that are available.

Questions & Answers

what does the word emitted mean?
Mwinga Reply
to be ejected or released
Ok thanks
what are the hooke laws
Tyriek Reply
what do really asked in exam
Leiyo Reply
hi please help me how to balance redox reactions?
Brian Reply
Which equation do u wanna balance
i tried to write it but my phone just can't write it Cr2 O72-(aq) + H2S (aq) Cr3 (aq) + S(s)
show is the equation
hello. what is the difference between a primary, secondary and tertiary alcohol
Thokozani Reply
primary the C=bonded to 1 Carbon atom.... secondary=bonded to 2 carbon atoms tertiary=bonded to 3 carbon atoms
I hope you're answered
thanks Christina
My pleasure
Thank you Christina. This is very helpful 😀👍👍💯
Anytime Thokozani
How to calculate pH?
thank you guys i didn't know about the primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols
thank you Christina
Hey guys which topic does AC nd DC generator falls
thank you
can somebody help me with functional isomers
Baningi Reply
function isomer has the same molecular formula but different functional group
what's momentum
Luvelo Reply
the product of an objects mass times velocity. it is mainly prevalent in collisions.
in order to produce an interference pattern, the waves used must be what?
Methane contains C and H. This compound is
Juan Reply
ketones's functional group
Moloi Reply
Why does the carboxyl group have acidc properties?
Evi Reply
carboxylic acids
Besides improving appearance what is another reason why medal is electro plated
Elizabeth Reply
it is made of metal
what is different between Dependent variable and independent variables
difference between A.c and D.c
AC has slip rings DC has split rings commutator
to avoid rust and to improve strength and conductivity
the variable whose value doesn't depend on other is known as independent variable ex time
are UV rays dangerous?
Khathutshelo Reply
what's this?
if there is extensive exposure, it can lead to skin cancer
yes depend upon their intensity
i hv a problem with this chapter because i also have problem with Newton's laws of motion
Kearabetswe Reply
I have a problem with calculation in Newton's law of motion
me also VuyokAzi
what's the question
Which area in particular?
just get the hang if free body diagrams,know the directions.
I know how to draw free diagram I have a problem with calculation in second law
what is the wave model of atom ?
Trazy Reply
guys what is momentum
@Luvelo... Momentum is the product of an object's mass and its velocity.
the model based on wave nature of electron
Can you state the Doppler effect in words
Nombuyiselo Reply
State Coulomb's law in words
the magnitude of the electrostatic force exerted point on each other is directly proportional to the product on magnitude of charges and inversely proportional to the square distance between them
the change in frequency of the sound detected by a listener because sound source and listener have different velocity

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 12 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11244/1.2
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