Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Discovering the secrets of viral sequences in COVID-19

Since the beginning of 2020, labs from all around the world have been sequencing the material from positive tests of people affected by COVID-19 and then depositing sequences mostly to three points of collection: GenBank, ...

Oncology & Cancer

Nerves keep pancreatic cancer cells from starving

Pancreatic cancer cells avert starvation by signaling to nerves, which grow into dense tumors and secrete nutrients. This is the finding of a study with experiments in cancer cells, mice, and human tissue samples published ...

Parkinson's & Movement disorders

Gut bacteria could be responsible for side effect of Parkinson's drug

Bacteria in the small intestine can deaminate levodopa, the main drug that is used to treat Parkinson's disease. Bacterial processing of the unabsorbed fractions of the drug results in a metabolite that reduces gut motility. ...

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Amino acid

In chemistry, an amino acid is a molecule containing both amine and carboxyl functional groups. These molecules are particularly important in biochemistry, where this term refers to alpha-amino acids with the general formula H2NCHRCOOH, where R is an organic substituent. In the alpha amino acids, the amino and carboxylate groups are attached to the same carbon atom, which is called the α–carbon. The various alpha amino acids differ in which side chain (R group) is attached to their alpha carbon. They can vary in size from just a hydrogen atom in glycine through a methyl group in alanine to a large heterocyclic group in tryptophan.

Amino acids are critical to life, and have a variety of roles in metabolism. One particularly important function is as the building blocks of proteins, which are linear chains of amino acids. Amino acids are also important in many other biological molecules, such as forming parts of coenzymes, as in S-adenosylmethionine, or as precursors for the biosynthesis of molecules such as heme. Due to this central role in biochemistry, amino acids are very important in nutrition.

Amino acids are commonly used in food technology and industry. For example, monosodium glutamate is a common flavor enhancer that gives foods the taste called umami. Beyond the amino acids that are found in all forms of life, amino acids are also used in industry. Applications include the production of biodegradable plastics, drugs and chiral catalysts.

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