Proteins are large, complex molecules that play a central role in the cells of all living organisms. they consist of amino acids, which are connected by peptide bonds, and their structure determines their function in the body. Proteins are involved in almost every process within a cell, including cell structure, function and regulation. They are necessary for the functions of organs, tissues and cells and form the basis for enzymes, Hormones, transport molecules, antibodies and much more.

Functions of proteins

  • Enzymatic activity : Many proteins act as enzymes that catalyze biochemical reactions. They are crucial for metabolic pathways, DNA replication, repair and transcription, as well as cellular metabolism.
  • Structure and Support : Structural proteins such as collagen, keratin and elastin provide strength and structure to cells and tissues. They are important for building muscles, bones, skin and hair.
  • Transport and storage : Some proteins bind and transport atoms or small molecules within an organism. Hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in our blood, is an example of a transport protein.
  • Signal transduction : Proteins play a key role in signal transmission between and within cells, which is essential for the regulation of biological processes.
  • Immune response : Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system to protect the body from foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses.
  • Movement : Motor proteins such as actin and myosin are responsible for muscle contractions and other types of movement within the body.

Structure of proteins

The structure of proteins is organized into four levels:

  1. Primary structure : The sequence of amino acids in a protein.
  2. Secondary structure : Local folding of the polypeptide chain into α-helices and β-sheets.
  3. Tertiary structure : The three-dimensional shape of a protein, formed by the interactions between the side chains of amino acids.
  4. Quaternary structure : The arrangement and interaction of multiple protein subunits.

Nutrition and proteins

Proteins are an essential part of the diet because they provide the amino acids the body needs to synthesize new proteins. There are 20 different amino acids, 9 of which are considered essential because the body cannot produce them itself and therefore they must be obtained through food. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes and nuts.

Adequate protein intake is crucial for the growth, repair and maintenance of all body functions. A deficiency or insufficient intake of proteins can lead to muscle loss, weakened immunity and other health problems.

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