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The Twenty Common Amino Acids Found in Proteins

The R group of each amino acid is circled in green.  The R group contributes the unique properties of each of the different amino acids.  A protein's three dimensional shape is a result of the interactions between the R groups of amino acids in different parts of the chain.  These interactions include ionic bonds, hydrogen bonds, disulfide bonds, and hydrophobic interactions.

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One amino acid substitution in a hemoglobin protein causes Sickle Cell Anemia


The function of normal human red blood cells, which are disk-shaped, is to transport oxygen from the lungs to the other organs of the body.  Each red blood cell contains millions of molecules of hemoglobin that carries the oxygen.

A slight change in the order of the amino acids in the hemoglobin molecule (valine substituted for glutamine), which has only 146 amino acids, causes sickle-cell disease.  Abnormal hemoglobin molecules stick together and crystallize deforming the red blood cells.  The deformed blood cells then clog tiny blood vessels impeding the flow of blood.  Sickle-cell anemia kills about 100,000 people per year in the US.
 
Normal hemoglobin (eight out of the 146 amino acid units of normal hemoglobin)
Val His Leu Thr Pro Glu Glu Lys
Sickle-cell hemoglobin (the same section as above as found in Sickle-cell hemoglobin)
Val His Leu Thr Pro Val Glu Lys
Good red blood cells

 

 

Sickle cell blood cells

pictures from:
www.cc.nih.gov/ccc/ ccnews/nov99/

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Jim Dorsey
2/12/1930 — 4-30-2002

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