[This post takes between 2 and 4 min. to read.]
As you probably inferred from the title, this post is gonna be on proteinsssssss.
The next post will [obviously] be on lipids, and the post after that will be the chemistry post. Yay!
Okay. Lets do thisssss.
What are proteins?
Proteins are organic molecules built up from amino acid sequences. Till now, 21 amino acids have been discovered. Proteins, up super-super-super close, actually look like tangled up ribbons. They play an important role in the body, and are made up of carbon[C], hydrogen[H], oxygen[O] and nitrogen[N].
Types of proteins–>
The above image is that of an antibody. Antibodies fall under one of the 5 types of proteins. The 5 types of proteins are- strucutural proteins, storage proteins, immunoglobulins [Tongue twister alert. I dare you to say it 10 times in one breath.], enzymes and hormonal proteins. Antibodies are a kind of immunoglobulin.
Hormones are, obviously, proteins. They are teeny-weeny chemical messengersthat are secreted directly into the blood. This gives them access to every single cell in the body, making it far easier for them to do their job.
But, what do hormones even do? They are an integral part of the endocrine system. Hormones affect lots of things in our lives- like mood, development and growth. They are ways of communication- sort of like floating tutors that guide the cells on what to do.
For example, the hormone serotonin, which is secreted by the intestines and brain, affects your mood by making you happy and satisfied. Estrogen, produced by the ovaries, promotes the maintenance and development of the human body’s female characteristics. Cortisol is our body’s main stress hormone- like a natural built-in alarm system.
These are the largest class of proteins. They are extremely essential to your body’s consctruction. Structural proteins are tough, strong and fibrous. They make up structures like hair, feathers, skin, horns and connective tissue. Strucutural proteins are important because they provide structure and support to our body’s cells.
Keratin, for example, makes up quills, hair, nails and bones. Elastin is often found in tendons and ligaments, whereas collagen is found in muscles as well as bones, and also provides elasticity to the skin.
#3- Storage proteins–>
The above is an image of ferritin- a storage protein. Storage proteins are proteins that, well, store things. Some of these proteins only store things while others store and transport substances around our body- basically functioning like biological taxis. These are found in plant seeds, egg whites and milk.
Examples of these proteins are haemglobin and ferritin. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron- which is a crucial element since iron aids your body in making red blood cells. Haemoglobin is another protein that stores oxygen in your red blood cells.
The above image is of an immunoglobulin in action. The human body is under constant attack from various bacteria, viruses, pathogens, toxins, antigens and other foreign objects. To protect the body from these harmful organsims, immunglobulins have evolved. Immunoglobulins are often released in response to the presence of antigens in the body. Each kind of immunoglobulin fights against a particular type of antigen.
For example, IgM is the biggest immunglobulin and the first to appear during antigen presence. IgA is the immunoglobulin that defends against harmful organisms present in the saliva. IgG, the most common immunoglobulin [since it’s found in all bodily fluids, and like, alot of your body is fluiiiiiid], protects against bacterial as well as viral infections.
Last, and definitely not the least. Enzymes may not be the most numerous protein in the body, but damn, they are important.
So enzymes, if you recall from an earlier blog post, are biological catalysts- they speed up reactions while themselves remaining unchanged. There are many types, and each type works best at a different temperature and pH.
Enzymes have a depression in their structure- the active site, which is complementary to the substrate it’s supposed to work on. When the substrate has been broken down or built up or basically been worked on, it is called a product.
Phosphorylase is an enzyme that builds up starch in plant cells. Maltase is an enzyme that digests maltose to glucose. Catalase is an extremely important enzyme that converts hydrogen peroxide[ a dangerous substance] to water and hydrogen.
Amino Acids in the Murchison Meteorite–>
Sounds cool, no?
So- here’s the gist. The Murchison Meteorite was a meteorite that fell on Earth 28 September 1969. Upon analysis, organic compounds were found in it- to be precise, 12 amino acids of extraterrestrial origin.
This has spawned several theories that life came to Earth from somewhere else, and the most basic forms of life had not evolved here.
We’re done for today- and sorry for the slightly lengthy post.
Here’s the Space Bonus on the Asteroid Belt- some facts are pretty interesting… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sS9vmGQxS_M