A Quick Overview of Proteins

by on August 1st, 2010
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Proteins are important to the body. So what are they and what do they do? Here is a description.

The most important part of the human body or in any living thing is cells. Without cells, we would not be, because they create the multiple body parts. In that capacity, proteins play a critical role by doing most of the work in cells. Moreover, they are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body.

Amino Acids

Proteins contain hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, and they attach to one another in long molecular chains. Take up to 20 different amino acids, combine them, and you can make a protein. The sequence of amino acids determines how each protein’s performs its specific function and unique structure. The different functions in the body dictate how the proteins operate. Here are some examples.


Antibodies cause an impact viruses and bacteria by binding themselves to them. This binding protects the body by destroying the virus or bacteria.


Another protein that is important are Enzymes. These amino acids carry out the majority of chemical reactions that take place in cells. Moreover, they assist with the formation of new molecules by reading the genetic information stored in DNA. The chemical composition of an enzyme is the made by combining between 100 and 1,000 amino acids.


Messenger proteins – an example are hormones – transmit signals to coordinate biological processes between different cells, tissues, and organs. Oxytocin is a hormone that occurs in females and it stimulates uterine contractions during childbirth. Vasopressin is another hormone that prevents fluid loss by stimulating the kidney tubules to reabsorb water, but it can lead to high blood pressure.


These proteins provide structure and support for cells. They are the largest class of proteins. They allow the body to move. The most familiar are the keratins and form protective coverings of all land vertebrates. Skin, fur, hair, nails, claws and hooves are examples of structural proteins.


These proteins are globular proteins. They bind together atoms and small molecules, carry them within cells, and are some are soluble in water. Hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to tissues. But, Serum Albumin on the other hand, transports water-insoluble lipids in the bloodstream.

How important are Proteins?
Proteins make up a necessary component of cell structure. In fact, up to 15 percent of the total mass in a person’s body contains proteins. They keep our bodies together because they are part of the structure of muscles, cartilage, ligaments, skin and hair.

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