What Do Proteins Look Like

As mentioned above, peptides and proteins are composed of links of amino acids. Some smaller proteins will exist as a somewhat straight chain of amino acids; however, most proteins will exist in a complex three-dimensional design (Figure 6.3). Links of amino acids will contort themselves based upon the specific sequencing of the amino acids.

How links of amino acids contort depends on the interaction between the side groups (R groups) on the different amino acids. For instance, some amino acids are attracted to other amino acids in the chain while others are repulsed. This is due to either opposing or similar charges. An analogy would be children holding hands to form a chain. As you can imagine, within a short period of time the chain would bend in a manner specific to the children. Some children would want to be closer (or further away) from others. As amino acid chain bends, twists, and warps about three dimensionally, some amino acids will form bonds with other amino acids. This helps stabilize the three-dimensional design.

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