Genetic discovery may improve corn quality, yields

Researchers may be able to improve corn yields and nutritional value after discovering genetic regulators that synthesize starch and protein in the widely eaten grain, according to a Rutgers-led study.

Producing F-18 radiopharmaceuticals for PET imaging

Recently ANSTO researchers have made progress investigating improved ways to make life-saving radiopharmaceuticals using the fluorine-18 radioisotope so they can be available in more hospitals at lower cost.

What artificial intelligence can teach us about proteins

Proteins are vital parts of all living organisms and perform essential tasks in our bodies. They build and repair tissues, supply components of the immune and hormone systems, regulate metabolism, and transmit signals. Researchers ...

Amino acid in fruit fly intestines found to regulate sleep

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in China has found that an amino acid made in fruit fly intestines plays a key role in regulating their sleep. In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, ...

Surface protein editing in bacteria

University of Minnesota researchers have discovered this previously unknown signaling pathway that regulates surface proteins on bacteria that can lead to new targets for antibiotics.

Researchers find ice feature on Saturn's giant moon

Rain, seas and a surface of eroding organic material can be found both on Earth and on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. However, on Titan it is methane, not water, that fills the lakes with slushy raindrops.

Fitting a right hand in a left-handed mitten

Many biomolecules come in two versions that are each other's mirror image, like a left and a right hand. Cells generally use the left-hand version of amino acids to produce proteins, and uptake mechanisms were thought to ...

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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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