Research team first to develop 3D structure of twinkle protein

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have developed a three-dimensional structure that allows them to see how and where disease mutations on the twinkle protein can lead to mitochondrial diseases. The protein ...

Effective modification of enzyme function by computational science

Bio-manufacturing uses enzyme reactions to produce compounds that serve as materials such as pharmaceuticals, foods, fibers, and plastics. It is conducted using aqueous solvents under normal temperature and pressure conditions, ...

Light as a tool for the synthesis of complex molecules

Chemists at the University of Münster have developed a novel and straightforward way to produce complex organic molecules. Mild reaction conditions, simple operation, scalability and the use of an inexpensive and commercially ...

Asexual reproduction leads to harmful genetic mutations

A team led by biologists at The University of Texas at Arlington has published a study supporting the theory that species that reproduce asexually have more harmful genetic mutations than those utilizing sexual reproduction.

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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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