Medical research

AI's human protein database a 'great leap' for research

Scientists on Thursday unveiled the most exhaustive database yet of the proteins that form the building blocks of life, in a breakthrough observers said would "fundamentally change biological research".

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

How does the structure of cytolysins influence their activity?

Although Enterococcus faecalis is usually an innocuous member of the bacterial community in the human gut, it can also cause several infections, including liver disorders. The bacteria produce cytolysins, which are molecules ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

SARS-CoV-2 following predictable mutational footsteps

New research from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has shown that the mutations arising in the COVID-19-causing SARS-CoV-2 virus seem to run in the family—or at least the genus of coronaviruses most dangerous to humans.

Cardiology

New markers for coronary microvascular disease identified

Although cardiovascular disease is the main cause of illness among women in the U.S., certain conditions such as coronary microvascular disease (CMD) cannot be easily diagnosed. In a new study, researchers at the University ...

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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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