Cancer-linked enzyme mechanism newly characterized in study

A new study led by scientists at IUPUI and Indiana University Bloomington is the first to describe a biochemical mechanism that increases the activity of a molecule whose presence is observed in many types of cancer.

In the beginning, there was sugar

Organic molecules formed the basis for the evolution of life. But how could inorganic precursors have given rise to them? LMU chemist Oliver Trapp now reports a reaction pathway in which minerals catalyze the formation of ...

Igniting the synthetic transport of amino acids in living cells

The transport of amino acids and other molecules across the cell's membrane plays a crucial role in the metabolism of cells and, therefore, in human health. Current research hints that cancer, cystic fibrosis, aminoacidurias ...

80-year-old antibiotic redesigned for new medical uses

Physicians and scientists have long searched the natural world for chemicals that can improve human health. However, evolutionary selection optimized natural chemicals to benefit their host, not for safety or efficacy in ...

Engineered bacteria churn out cancer biomarkers

Pity the glycan—these complex sugar molecules are attached to 80% of the proteins in the human body, making them an essential ingredient of life. But this process, known as glycosylation, has been somewhat overshadowed ...

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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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