Questions? We're here to help. Health advisors on staff. Call us toll-free at (866) 947-6789.

Biology - Amino Acids and Proteins

Scott Hermanson

Proteins and amino acids are among the most fundamental building blocks in biological creatures. Unique amino acids and proteins are biosynthesized by every species.

Amino Acids

Amino acids contain Amino (NH2), Carboxyl (-COOH), and Radical molecular groupings. The difference between various amino acids is found in the radical grouping (denoted -R). Amino acids may include sulfur, phosphorus, and trace amounts of copper and iron. When water is removed from amino acids, the acids link together and form peptides (large chains are called polypeptides).

Alanine, Proline, Isoleucine, Phenylalanine, Leucine, Tryptophan, Methionine, and Valine are nonpolar amino acids. Polar, uncharged amino acids can bond to water. Glysine, Serine, Asparagine, Glutamine, Threonine, Thyrosine, and Cysteine are polar and uncharged.

Aspartic and Glutamic acids are categorized as acidic amino acids. Hisidine, Arginine, and Lysine are classified as basic. Amino acids unable to be biosynthesized are said to be essential because they must be consumed. Essential human amino acids include Valine, Histidine, Tryptophan, Isoleucine, Threonine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, and Arginine before adulthood.


Proteins are the most abundant macromolecule in living matter. Protiens are composed of combinations of the twenty standard (proteinogenic) amino acids: Proline (technically an Imino Acid), Glutamine, Alanine, Cysteine, Phenylalanine, Glutamate, Isoleucine, Glycine, Lysine, Aspartic Acid, Methionine, Leucine, Asparagine, Histidine, Arginine, Serine, Tryptophan, Threonine, Valine, and Tyrosine. A primary role of proteins in general is related to their involvement in the construction of enzymes (all enzymes are proteins); also, proteins are key to the maintenance of organs, constituency of supportive tissues, and development of muscles.

Proteins are composed of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. A protein's function is often a direct relation to its structure. Proteins can have primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary levels of structure.

Fibrous proteins are found in animals (muscle, connective tissue, tendons, etc.) and are normally insoluble in water. Globular proteins are generally soluble, and often serve as transporters for the body. A protein is said to be complete if it supplies all essential amino acids.


Amino acids are complex molecular structures that are essential to life. There are many types of amino acids that combine to create proteins. Proteins have prominent enzymatic and muscular roles in humans.

Health Disclaimer. Copyright ©2014. Published with permission.