Protein functional categories and digestion


Proteins are molecules built from amino acids. Proteins make up a large portion of our body and serve extremely important functions. These functions are:

Enzymes - biological catalysts that speed up the rate of reactions in our body.

Messengers - some hormones are proteins. Hormones are chemical messengers that are synthesized and secreted by endocrine tissues and target specific organs.

Immunoproteins - provide protection to our body in the form of immunoglobulins and antibodies. Immunoglobulins are produced by white blood cells (plasma cells). These proteins bind to pathogenic cells, thereby targeting them for destruction.

Buffers- many proteins serve as buffers, resisting pH changes and regulating acid/base balance.

Protein digestion:

Protein digestion begins in the stomach with the help of HCl, hydrochloric acid. The acid denatures proteins, getting rid of the quaternary, tertiary and secondary structures. Hydrochloric acid also activates pepsinogen, making it into pepsin. Pepsin breaks peptide bonds in proteins. After the pepsin action, the end products are large polypeptides as well as free amino acids. These products proceed to enter small intestine, where more digestive enzymes are released and converted into their active forms, such as trypsin and chymotrypsin. Protein digestion results in dipeptides, tripeptides and free amino acids. These end products get absorbed in the brush border of small intestine.

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