<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Primary structure

The unique sequence of amino acids in a polypeptide chain is its primary structure    . For example, the pancreatic hormone insulin has two polypeptide chains, A and B, and they are linked together by disulfide bonds. The N terminal amino acid of the A chain is glycine, whereas the C terminal amino acid is asparagine ( [link] ). The sequences of amino acids in the A and B chains are unique to insulin.

The amino acid sequences for the A chain and B chain of bovine insulin are shown. The A chain is 21 amino acids in length, and the B chain is 30 amino acids in length. One disulfide, or SS bond, connects two cysteine residues in the A chain. Two other disulfide linkages connect the A chain to the B chain.
Bovine serum insulin is a protein hormone made of two peptide chains, A (21 amino acids long) and B (30 amino acids long). In each chain, primary structure is indicated by three-letter abbreviations that represent the names of the amino acids in the order they are present. The amino acid cysteine (cys) has a sulfhydryl (SH) group as a side chain. Two sulfhydryl groups can react in the presence of oxygen to form a disulfide (S-S) bond. Two disulfide bonds connect the A and B chains together, and a third helps the A chain fold into the correct shape. Note that all disulfide bonds are the same length, but are drawn different sizes for clarity.

The unique sequence for every protein is ultimately determined by the gene encoding the protein. A change in nucleotide sequence of the gene’s coding region may lead to a different amino acid being added to the growing polypeptide chain, causing a change in protein structure and function. In sickle cell anemia, the hemoglobin β chain (a small portion of which is shown in [link] ) has a single amino acid substitution, causing a change in protein structure and function. Specifically, the amino acid glutamic acid is substituted by valine in the β chain. What is most remarkable to consider is that a hemoglobin molecule is made up of two alpha chains and two beta chains that each consist of about 150 amino acids. The molecule, therefore, has about 600 amino acids. The structural difference between a normal hemoglobin molecule and a sickle cell molecule—which dramatically decreases life expectancy—is a single amino acid of the 600. What is even more remarkable is that those 600 amino acids are encoded by three nucleotides each, and the mutation is caused by a single base change (point mutation), 1 in 1800 bases.

A portion of the hemoglobin amino acid sequence is shown. The normal hemoglobin beta chain has a glutamate at position six. The sickle cell beta chain has a valine at this position.
The beta chain of hemoglobin is 147 residues in length, yet a single amino acid substitution leads to sickle cell anemia. In normal hemoglobin, the amino acid at position seven is glutamate. In sickle cell hemoglobin, this glutamate is replaced by a valine.

Because of this change of one amino acid in the chain, hemoglobin molecules form long fibers that distort the biconcave, or disc-shaped, red blood cells and assume a crescent or “sickle” shape, which clogs arteries ( [link] ). This can lead to myriad serious health problems such as breathlessness, dizziness, headaches, and abdominal pain for those affected by this disease.

This electron micrograph shows red blood cells from a patient with sickle cell anemia. Most of the cells have a normal, disk shape, but about one in five has a sickle shape. A normal blood cell is eight microns across.
In this blood smear, visualized at 535x magnification using bright field microscopy, sickle cells are crescent shaped, while normal cells are disc-shaped. (credit: modification of work by Ed Uthman; scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

Questions & Answers

breathing in reptiles
sam Reply
which molecules binds to the active site of an enzyme
Ghulam Reply
human
Haggai
what is nutrients
Patrick Reply
nutrients is substance which body use in terms of need
Haggai
yes..
Abdullahi
can I join?
Osei
substance that provides nourishment essential for the maintenance of life and for growth.
umar
right same answer as you Umar
Namuli
please remind me
Namuli
Any material that provide essential components for cell metabolisms is nutrient
Mahmood
what are the types of skeleton
Tanyi Reply
endo skeleton and exo skeleton
Faith
or types of skeletons There is exo skeleton found in class insecta Exo skeleton found in phylum chordata and lastly hydrostatic skeleton found mainly in earth worms
Daniel
and hydrostatic skeleton
Godbless
what is life?
Jerson Reply
life is when any living thing breath or respirate.
Lucky
I want to join
Patrick
me too
Favour
me two
Monday
me too
Bengazy
me too
Maggie
I here
Yahaya
Does anybody knows another biology app that brings good understand
Lucky
give an example of a phylum where all members have open circulatory
Omoro Reply
anthropoda
Daniel
phylum Anthropoda
Daniel
how do u change the unit of temperature from degree celsius to degree Fahrenheit
Maggie
what are beneficial effects in industrial
Nnamani Reply
create employment
ibrahim
provide food
ibrahim
pollution
ibrahim
dirty the environment
ibrahim
pollution and lack of knowledge about how to manage waste
Alex
what is gametophyte
Ibrahim Reply
what is biology
Basiru Reply
Biology deals with the study of living organisms and their interactions with each other and the environment.
Quartey
biology simply means the study of living and non-livingthings.
Shamstar
what is the meaning of ubiquitous
Hamziyatu Reply
Under what topic is this question
fred
three branches of biology
Alexander Reply
what is the cell
Olajide Reply
what is life
Olajide
cell is the functional and structural unit of life
Shweta
life is a problem solving entity
Atanga
what is the characteristics of plant cell
Quaku
Describe the process that results in the formation of a tetrad.
Michael Reply
what is biology
Ndukwe Reply
biology is the study of life
Oghenemine
what is biology
Jimmy Reply
the study of life
Hamziyatu

Get the best Biology course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Biology' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask