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Amino acids are organic compounds containing amine and carboxylic acid functional groups. More than 500 amino acids are known and they can be classified according to the core structural, functional groups locations as alpha, beta, gamma or delta. In the form of proteins, amino acids encompass the second largest component of human muscles, cells and other tissues. Outside proteins, amino acids perform significant roles in processes such as neurotransmitter transport and biosynthesis.
Twenty three amino acids which are naturally incorporated into polypeptides are called proteinogenic or natural amino acids. The 23 proteinogenic amino acids combine into peptide chains to form building blocks of the proteins. These are the L-steroisomers although a few D-amino acids occur in bacterial envelopes and some antibiotics. The amine and carboxylic acid functional groups in amino acids allow them to have amphiprotic properties. Carboxylic acid groups can be deprotonated to become negative carboxylates and alpha-amino groups can be protonated to become positive alpha-ammonium groups.
Amino Acids Salts
Amino acids react with each other in a typical acid-base neutralization reaction to form a salt. Amino acid salts can be generally described as simple amino acid salts, salts of amino acids with dimeric cations, mixed salts of amino acids with different anions and cations, mixed amino acid metal salt complexes, amino acid- phosphoric acid complex salts and the like. Examples of amino acid salts with dimeric cations are diglycine chloride and diglycine nitrate.
Alkali salts of the amino acids glycine and alanine are used in absorption liquids on a technical scale for removing acid components such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide from gases. Such gases may come from refineries for oil processing, natural gas plants, coke ovens and others. Amino acid salts are used to replace individual amino acids to enhance the palatability and solubility of dietetic products without compromising the biological value of the formulation. Salts of amino acids are used in buffers to maintain the pH of aqueous liquids at a constant level.
Oligopeptides are often referred to as peptides (oligo - a few) and consist of 2-20 amino-acids which include dipeptides, tripeptides, tetrapeptides and pentapeptides. There are more than 600 oligopeptides and about half of them are separated into seven classes based on molecular structure such as aeruginosins, cyanopeptolins, microcystins, microviridins, microginins, anabaenopeptins and cyclamides. Oligopeptide classes are produced by nonribosomal peptides synthases (NRPS), except cyclamides and microviridins are synthesized through ribosomic pathways.