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Discuss the Importance of the Structure and Function of Proteins to Living Organisms.

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Discuss the Importance of the Structure and Function of Proteins to Living Organisms "First discovered in 1838, proteins are now recognized as the predominant ingredients of cells." ((c) Encarta, 1998) Proteins are very important biological compounds composed from monomers called amino acids. These are composed of the elements carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and sometimes sulphur. There are about twenty naturally occurring amino acids; they contain an amino group (NH2) and a carboxyl group (COOH). Proteins vary according to their radical group, which completes the side group of the amino acid. Amino acids join via condensation, to form a dipeptides and polypeptides through a peptide bond. Genes have a genetic code, which instructs cells to make polypeptides using the correct sequence of amino acids. Proteins have many different levels of structure - consequently they have varied functions. The first structure that can be formed is the primary structure because it is the simplest. ...read more.


It is insoluble making skin waterproof. The number of disulphide bonds present is great, making it an extremely stable protein. Fibrinogen is a protein responsible for clotting. The structure is important here because if we did not have it then if we cut ourselves we could die. The helix from the secondary protein coils further into a complex, three-dimensional, globular structure. The structure is described as tertiary. "Unlike fibrous proteins, globular proteins have a compact, roughly spherical shape." (Biochemistry for Advanced Biology, p.39, 1994) They have metabolic roles in the body for example haemoglobin, enzymes and hormones etc. The structure of the protein haemoglobin is important because it carries oxygen to body cells for respiration. If the shape was uncomplimentary it would be unable to carry oxygen and consequently we would die. The most proteins in the human body exist as enzymes. ...read more.


Hence, parts of the chain separate - structure and function are lost, i.e. the protein denatures. Factors that cause denaturation are: 1. Temperature because as it increases the atoms within the amino acids gain kinetic energy and vibrate. Eventually the hydrogen and ionic bonds break because they are not strong enough. 2. pH - if this changes then the charges on amino acids may change causing ionic bonds to break. "Most enzymes have an optimum temperature of 37�C and an optimum pH of 7." ((c) Oxford Encyclopaedia, 2001) Proteins are overall extremely important to living organisms. Their different levels and varied structures give them their unique and vital functions - which are involved in many processes such as conveying information, transport, movement, chemical reactions, immune protection etc. If there were any deformation to the structure of a protein then it loses its function therefore the functions previously mentioned would not take place. Proteins without their exclusive structure and function are useless - making them a necessity to all living organisms. ...read more.

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