6.1 What are proteins and what do they do?

In both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, the major purpose of DNA is to provide the information needed to construct the proteins necessary for the cell can perform all of its functions. Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs.

Proteins are made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein. The sequence of amino acids determines each protein’s unique 3-dimensional structure and its specific function.

Proteins can be described according to their large range of functions in the body, listed in alphabetical order:

Function

Description

Antibody

 

Antibodies bind to specific foreign particles, such as viruses and bacteria, to help protect the body.
Enzyme

 

Enzymes carry out almost all of the thousands of chemical reactions that take place in cells. They also assist with the formation of new molecules by reading the genetic information stored in DNA.
Messenger

 

Messenger proteins, such as some types of hormones, transmit signals to coordinate biological processes between different cells, tissues, and organs.
Structural component

 

These proteins provide structure and support for cells. On a larger scale, they also allow the body to move.
Transport/ storage

 

These proteins bind and carry atoms
and small molecules within cells and throughout the body. 

References

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6.1 What are proteins and what do they do? by Lisa Bartee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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