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Diễn đàn » Hóa học đại học và sau đại học » Tiếng Anh chuyên ngành hóa học (English for Special Purposes) » Lesson forty one (Amino acid)

Lesson forty one
ProfVietanhNgày: Thứ ba, 2010-06-01, 12:22 PM | Tin nhắn # 1
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Amino acid

Phenylalanine is one of the standard amino acids.

In chemistry, an amino acid is a molecule that contains both amine and carboxyl functional groups. In biochemistry, 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, 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.

Beyond the amino acids that recur throughout biochemistry, many non-natural amino acids are also important. The chelating agents EDTA and nitriloacetic acid are alpha amino acids that are industrially synthesized.

General structure


The general structure of an α-amino acid, with the amino group on the left and the carboxyl group on the right

In the structure shown to the right, the R represents a side chain specific to each amino acid. The central carbon atom called Cα is a chiral central carbon atom (with the exception of glycine) to which the two termini and the R-group are attached. Amino acids are usually classified by the properties of the side chain into four groups. The side chain can make them behave like a weak acid, a weak base, a hydrophile if they are polar, and hydrophobe if they are nonpolar.


Phạm Bá Việt Anh

Department of Analytical Chemistry
Faculty of Chemistry
Hanoi National University of Education
Mobile - Tel: (84) 943 919 789
 
ProfVietanhNgày: Thứ ba, 2010-06-01, 12:26 PM | Tin nhắn # 2
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Reactions

As amino acids have both a primary amine group and a primary carboxyl group, these chemicals can undergo most of the reactions associated with these functional groups. These include nucleophilic addition, amide bond formation and imine formation for the amine group and esterification, amide bond formation and decarboxylation for the carboxylic acid group. The multiple side chains of amino acids can also undergo chemical reactions. The types of these reactions are determined by the groups on these side chains and are discussed in the articles dealing with each specific type of amino acid.

Zwitterions

An amino acid, in its (1) normal (unionized) and (2) zwitterionic forms.

As amino acids have both the active groups of an amine and a carboxylic acid they can be considered both acid and base (though their natural pH is usually influenced by the R group). At a certain pH known as the isoelectric point, the amine group gains a positive charge (is protonated) and the acid group a negative charge (is deprotonated). The exact value is specific to each different amino acid. This ion is known as a zwitterion, which comes from the German word Zwitter meaning "hybrid". A zwitterion can be extracted from the solution as a white crystalline structure with a very high melting point, due to its dipolar nature. Near-neutral physiological pH allows most free amino acids to exist as zwitterions.

Hydrophilic and hydrophobic amino acids
Depending on the polarity of the side chain, amino acids vary in their hydrophilic or hydrophobic character. These properties are important in protein structure and protein-protein interactions. The importance of the physical properties of the side chains comes from the influence this has on the amino acid residues' interactions with other structures, both within a single protein and between proteins. The distribution of hydrophilic and hydrophobic amino acids determines the tertiary structure of the protein, and their physical location on the outside structure of the proteins influences their quaternary structure. For example, soluble proteins have surfaces rich with polar amino acids like serine and threonine, while integral membrane proteins tend to have outer ring of hydrophobic amino acids that anchors them into the lipid bilayer, and proteins anchored to the membrane have a hydrophobic end that locks into the membrane. Similarly, proteins that have to bind to positively-charged molecules have surfaces rich with negatively charged amino acids like glutamate and aspartate, while proteins binding to negatively-charged molecules have surfaces rich with positively charged chains like lysine and arginine. Recently a new scale of hydrophobicity based on the free energy of hydrophobic association has been proposed.

Hydrophilic and hydrophobic interactions of the proteins do not have to rely only on the sidechains of amino acids themselves. By various posttranslational modifications other chains can be attached to the proteins, forming hydrophobic lipoproteins or hydrophilic glycoproteins.

Peptide bond formation

The condensation of two amino acids to form a peptide bond.

As both the amine and carboxylic acid groups of amino acids can react to form amide bonds, one amino acid molecule can react with another and become joined through an amide linkage. This polymerization of amino acids is what creates proteins. This condensation reaction yields the newly formed peptide bond and a molecule of water. In cells, this reaction does not occur directly, instead the amino acid is activated by attachment to a transfer RNA molecule through an ester bond. This aminoacyl-tRNA is produced in an ATP-dependent reaction carried out by an aminoacyl tRNA synthetase. This aminoacyl-tRNA is then a substrate for the ribosome, which catalyzes the attack of the amino group of the elongating protein chain on the ester bond. As a result of this mechanism, all proteins are synthesized starting at their N-terminus and moving towards their C-terminus.

In chemistry, peptides are synthesized by a variety of reactions. One of the most used in solid-phase peptide synthesis, which uses the aromatic oxime derivatives of amino acids as activated units. These are added in sequence onto the growing peptide chain, which is attached to a solid resin support.

Alpha-amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. A protein forms via the condensation of amino acids to form a chain of amino acid "residues" linked by peptide bonds. Proteins are defined by their unique sequence of amino acid residues; this sequence is the primary structure of the protein. Just as the letters of the alphabet can be combined to form an almost endless variety of words, amino acids can be linked in varying sequences to form a huge variety of proteins.

About twenty standard amino acids are used by cells in protein biosynthesis, and these are specified by the general genetic code. These twenty amino acids are biosynthesized from other molecules, but organisms differ in which ones they can synthesize and which ones must be provided in their diet. The ones that cannot be synthesized by an organism are called essential amino acids.


Phạm Bá Việt Anh

Department of Analytical Chemistry
Faculty of Chemistry
Hanoi National University of Education
Mobile - Tel: (84) 943 919 789
 
Diễn đàn » Hóa học đại học và sau đại học » Tiếng Anh chuyên ngành hóa học (English for Special Purposes) » Lesson forty one (Amino acid)
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