Every day, people interact with proteins in various ways without realizing it. Whether it’s your favorite serving of beef burger or workout smoothies, proteins are there in just about every scenario; This does not include the numerous natural materials rich in protein substances. Human interleukin -2 (Human IL-2) is crucial for regulating the body’s immune system.
What Are Proteins?
Proteins are one of the major components necessary for life, not only in humans but also in other organisms. They are responsible for innumerable functions within living organisms. Among the crucial roles they play within living cells is that they act as building blocks for many tissues and biological molecules necessary to sustain life. Their importance extends far beyond providing the primary structural component for living organisms. Milk, for example, is a stable part of most people’s diet throughout the world. However, few people ever stop to think of the components that make it so nutritious for kids and adults.
Whole milk contains other essential substances, proteins make up a significant part. Other foods like legumes contain crucial proteins that are good dietary sources. Proteins also make up essential structures of some necessary materials like wool. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the biological substance responsible for heredity, has a giant protein. In a nutshell, proteins are a big deal!
It’s important to note that proteins can be chemically broken down further into smaller subunits, the amino acids. These are the building blocks that form protein molecules. The way amino acids are arranged plays a crucial role in how the formed protein molecules function. For example, both wool and meat are proteins. However, their amino acid arrangement is different; This confers their different properties (and those of all the different protein substances).
At a basic level, amino acids link up end to end to form specific protein molecules capable of carrying out different functions.
This diverse functionality is achieved by how the amino acids are arranged in any one protein molecule. Protein molecules then combine to form specific three-dimensional shapes. These shapes are responsible for how a protein molecule will react. Some three-dimensional protein structures are made of water-loving (hydrophilic) sides inside the protein molecule arrangement. Their water-repellent (hydrophobic) sides are on the outside; This means that it is repelled every time water comes into contact with such molecules. This property makes fibrous proteins good as part of structural components like cell membranes and wool. A reverse of this protein arrangement means that the hydrophilic part of the protein is on the outside; This ensures solubility with things like water. This solubility is crucial for many essential proteins within the human body. Such proteins include hemoglobin, the substance found in human red blood cells essential to carrying oxygen throughout the body.
How Proteins Are Made
As mentioned earlier, amino acids are the building blocks for proteins. It’s essential to know about genes before talking about protein synthesis. Genes are the units of heredity found within living cells. Among the many things they control, genes also direct how and when proteins are formed. Amino acids are the expression of the ‘instructions’ within particular genes. Therefore, amino acid synthesis can be considered an extension of gene expression.
Transcription and translation are the two main processes in protein synthesis.
Transcription involves the conversion of ‘instructions’ from the genetic material (DNA) into RNA; This happens through pairing particular molecules (bases) with other corresponding bases. For example, adenine is a base that pairs with thymine in DNA. However, the appropriate base pair in RNA is adenine and uracil. This pairing produces a messenger RNA (mRNA) from the DNA. This mRNA is what goes into the process of translation.
The translation is when the mRNA acts as a template for forming new protein strands. The amino acids used to build the new protein strands have to follow the mRNA template to the letter. Because the mRNA is derived from DNA, the proteins formed are ultimately products of the DNA. Of course, several other components are also involved. For example, the transfer RNA (tRNA) is crucial to carrying the amino acids during the protein chain formation.
The amino acids used to manufacture protein chains are divided into essential and non-essential ones in humans. Essential amino acids are those that the body is not able to manufacture. Therefore, they must be provided in the diet. These include leucine and phenylalanine, among others. The body can produce the non-essential ones. Both types of amino acids are fed into the protein synthesis system of transcription and translation.
All in all, proteins are crucial to life.