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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe how the body digests proteins
  • Explain how the urea cycle prevents toxic concentrations of nitrogen
  • Differentiate between glucogenic and ketogenic amino acids
  • Explain how protein can be used for energy

Much of the body is made of protein, and these proteins take on a myriad of forms. They represent cell signaling receptors, signaling molecules, structural members, enzymes, intracellular trafficking components, extracellular matrix scaffolds, ion pumps, ion channels, oxygen and CO 2 transporters (hemoglobin). That is not even the complete list! There is protein in bones (collagen), muscles, and tendons; the hemoglobin that transports oxygen; and enzymes that catalyze all biochemical reactions. Protein is also used for growth and repair. Amid all these necessary functions, proteins also hold the potential to serve as a metabolic fuel source. Proteins are not stored for later use, so excess proteins must be converted into glucose or triglycerides, and used to supply energy or build energy reserves. Although the body can synthesize proteins from amino acids, food is an important source of those amino acids, especially because humans cannot synthesize all of the 20 amino acids used to build proteins.

The digestion of proteins begins in the stomach. When protein-rich foods enter the stomach, they are greeted by a mixture of the enzyme pepsin    and hydrochloric acid (HCl; 0.5 percent). The latter produces an environmental pH of 1.5–3.5 that denatures proteins within food. Pepsin cuts proteins into smaller polypeptides and their constituent amino acids. When the food-gastric juice mixture (chyme) enters the small intestine, the pancreas releases sodium bicarbonate    to neutralize the HCl. This helps to protect the lining of the intestine. The small intestine also releases digestive hormones, including secretin    and CCK, which stimulate digestive processes to break down the proteins further. Secretin also stimulates the pancreas to release sodium bicarbonate. The pancreas releases most of the digestive enzymes, including the proteases trypsin, chymotrypsin, and elastase    , which aid protein digestion. Together, all of these enzymes break complex proteins into smaller individual amino acids ( [link] ), which are then transported across the intestinal mucosa to be used to create new proteins, or to be converted into fats or acetyl CoA and used in the Krebs cycle.

Digestive enzymes and hormones

The left panel shows the main organs of the digestive system, and the right panel shows a magnified view of the intestine. Text callouts indicate the different protein digesting enzymes produced in different organs.
Enzymes in the stomach and small intestine break down proteins into amino acids. HCl in the stomach aids in proteolysis, and hormones secreted by intestinal cells direct the digestive processes.

In order to avoid breaking down the proteins that make up the pancreas and small intestine, pancreatic enzymes are released as inactive proenzymes    that are only activated in the small intestine. In the pancreas, vesicles store trypsin    and chymotrypsin    as trypsinogen    and chymotrypsinogen    . Once released into the small intestine, an enzyme found in the wall of the small intestine, called enterokinase    , binds to trypsinogen and converts it into its active form, trypsin. Trypsin then binds to chymotrypsinogen to convert it into the active chymotrypsin. Trypsin and chymotrypsin break down large proteins into smaller peptides, a process called proteolysis    . These smaller peptides are catabolized into their constituent amino acids, which are transported across the apical surface of the intestinal mucosa in a process that is mediated by sodium-amino acid transporters. These transporters bind sodium and then bind the amino acid to transport it across the membrane. At the basal surface of the mucosal cells, the sodium and amino acid are released. The sodium can be reused in the transporter, whereas the amino acids are transferred into the bloodstream to be transported to the liver and cells throughout the body for protein synthesis.

Questions & Answers

to know the different structures of the body To know how the body works To know more about our body parts
Deitdre Reply
do you need any explanation when reading this book?
janet Reply
Its Good
compare and contrast the operation of homeostasis
Dinelle Reply
what is the difference between an ionic, polar covalent and nonpolar covalent bond?
In summary, the bond has different in electronegativity.
the definition of distal
Dinelle Reply
farthest away from the attachment point.
exercise physiologist how ?
Noor Reply
can I get the questions of human physiology that is present in HSC 2nd semester
Rafiullah Reply
how can I memorize
mukhtaar Reply
which part of the body produces blood
give me answer
Red blood cells are formed in the red bone marrow ofbones. Stem cells in the red bone marrow called hemocytoblasts give rise to all of the formed element
what is hemocytoblasts
hemocytoblasts are stem cells in red bone marrow which give rise the all of formed elements
Discuss clonal theory in physiology and its application in measles infection in a 6yr child? Can anyone help me
Isaac Reply
Capillary permeability
what do you want to know about it?
Hello, I want to search about the topic, information and pictures
syncitium is the property of which of the following muscle
Shahab Reply
can I get the questions of human physiology that is present in HSC 2nd semester
Sai Reply
i now madam
ha can u please send me the PDF of questions
it's important to me to have that information please send as fast as u can
me too if possible?
of course
I want too
If a molecule can only pass through a membrane with the assistance of a membrane protein, but the direction of its travel is controlled only by its concentration, the process is called?
A 52 year old woman turned her head quickly, during a tennis game and suddenly felt a sharp pain in her neck along her upper limb. Physical examination and medical imaging revealed a herniated degenerated IV disc in the cervical region of her vertebral column.
a. What probably caused the IV disc herniation? b. What cause IV disc degeneration? c. What are the result of disc degeneration?
Describe the neural control of erection and ejaculation.
Nana Reply
A 52 year old woman turned her head quickly, during a tennis game and suddenly felt a sharp pain in her neck along her upper limb. Physical examination and medical imaging revealed a herniated degenerated IV disc in the cervical region of her vertebral column. a)What probably caused the IV di
a) What probably caused the IV disc herniation? b) What cause IV disc degeneration? c) What are the result of disc degeneration?
iv disc herniation compress the nerve cause numbness tingling sensation even paralysis in severe cases...
explain more
function of skeleton
Josiah Reply
- for movement - blood production by the bone marrow
production of calsium and phosphorus
Shortly after childbirth, a woman consulted her physician about a tender swelling in her perineal region. 8. What fossa related the perineal swelling? 9. Describe what vessel may cause the collection of blood in the fossa after childbirth?

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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