Have you ever thought to yourself: WHAT IS LIFE?
Though that’s a question that has circulated throughout internet culture these days, the answer you’re looking for may lie in the science of proteins.
Proteins are the major components of what makes us who we are. In other words, they hold the answers to the questions we may have about life.
Proteins, our worker molecules, are necessary for pretty much every activity in our bodies. They circulate in our blood, seep from our tissues, and grow in strands on our head. Proteins are also the key components of biological materials ranging from silk to the antlers of a moose.
Proteins are essential to the function of our bodies. They help with muscle strength, they preside in our hair and nails. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other bodily chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. It’s in our food, a foundation for fitness.
Proteins are all around us.
WHAT ARE PROTEINS MADE OF?
Proteins are made inside cells in a complex process that starts with the transcription of segments of the DNA to RNA molecules, which are then further translated into a protein sequence in dedicated subcellular structures.
The building blocks of proteins are a set of twenty different amino acids, which are small organic molecules. Within a protein, multiple amino acids are linked together by peptide bonds, thereby forming a long polypeptide chain. The linear sequence of amino acids within a protein is considered the primary structure of the protein.
Following biosynthesis, protein chains undergo a process called Post-Translational Modification (PTM). In PTM additional small molecules like phosphates might be linked to the protein chain or a part of the chain might also be cleaved, removed from the sequence. PTMs can have a significant impact on the biological function of proteins.
From its primary structure, proteins are folded into a secondary structure (α-helix, β-strand) and finally into a tertiary structure – a final three-dimensional structure of the protein chain. Some proteins consist of more than just one polypeptide chains which is defined by the Quaternary structure – the aggregation of two or more individual polypeptide chains (sub-units) that operate as a single functional unit.
Once ready for function, proteins are dispatched to their posts, taking on the biological processes they were defined to do. When their time comes to an end, proteins are degraded into smaller polypeptides or amino acids.
Proteins orchestrate most biological functions required for any cell, organ or organism to function. The abundance of specific proteins as well as characterization of the entire set of proteins, the proteome, are crucial for defining biological systems. Therefore, our understanding of biological systems relies on the ability to directly quantify proteins on a proteome-wide scale. The field of proteomics aims at just that – understanding the proteome by enabling the unbiased and large-scale study of proteins.
At Biognosys, we focus on the field of proteomic research and we have dedicated our time to decoding the proteome in order to leave a great impact on our understanding of biological processes that shape life.
Our DNA might provide the blueprint for how to build our bodies, but it is proteins that are the functional units of life.