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Introduction to Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins

Following the advancements made in sequencing of genomes at the turn of the century, the next phase of biological understanding was to begin to link these genes to their physiological function within biological systems; primarily through the study of mRNA (transcriptomics), proteins (proteomics), and metabolites (metabolomics).

Areas of biological research

Figure 1. Areas of biological research.


Proteins have a vital role and are a fundamental component of systems biology; they are the tools used to control almost all functions and processes organisms require to survive.

From the keratins making up the protective layer of skin and hair, to enzymes for digestion and assimilation of food, as well as the enzymes utilized in key organs such as the liver and kidneys to enable them to rid the body of toxins, and these proteins are synthesized into blood to allow it to perform its multitude of vital responsibilities.

It is because of this that they are highly applicable as targets for therapeutic drugs in the treatment of diseases, as well as being used for biological therapy, as in the case of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Figure 2. Polypeptide chain.

A chain of more than 20-30 amino acids is typically referred to as a polypeptide. The actual order, or sequence, of the amino acids in any given polypeptide, and its associated protein, is referred to as its primary structure and is determined by the gene from which it was transcribed.

 

 

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