Protein is often thought of as a homogenous substance that should be present in your diet in certain amounts, but proteins are actually key players that all have unique jobs in the body.
Proteins are crucial and involved in a wide range of functions in living organisms. The functions are as diverse as the structures, and a cell can contain thousands of proteins. Proteins are both needed for structure, function and regulation of the body’s organs and tissues. Key proteins include antibodies that recognize foreign cells (e.g. viruses), enzymes that perform all chemical reactions, hormones (e.g. insulin) that coordinate biological processes, transport proteins (e.g. hemoglobin) and structural components (e.g. actin).
What are proteins made of?
Proteins are molecules encoded by the genetic information found in DNA. Even though they all vary in structure and function, all proteins consist of amino acids. In animals, proteins are degraded into amino acids, which are then used as building blocks to produce new proteins. 9 out of the 20 amino acids are termed essential, since they cannot be produced in the organism. You thus are need to them through your diet.
Proteins are assembled by connecting several amino acids into one or more long chains that folded into a specific three-dimensional structure. The sequence of amino acids is crucial for the bends and folds in the protein, since each amino acid has unique chemical properties.
How can we analyse the protein content?
Despite being defined as macromolecules, proteins are very small and not visible with the naked eye or even a microscope. Therefore, it is necessary to apply various methods to determine the amino acid sequence, the molecular weight of the protein, and similar characteristica. The method mass spectrometry is useful for this purpose and especially a form termed intact protein mass analysis. With this technique, the user can characterize the protein in question, e.g. during development of new medicine and in quality control of the medicinal product.