RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation showing the denaturing of a protein by an acid, represented by numerous hydrogen ions, or protons (H+). Proteins are polymers made up of long chains of amino acids. The location of different amino acids on the chain helps to determine the structure of the protein. It folds into a specific three-dimensional shape due to interactions between the amino acids, and between other atoms, ions or molecules (such as metal ions or water). The biological activity of a protein is determined largely by its shape. The shape can be disrupted by numerous factors, such as heat, acids, alkalis and solvents. Here, the acid is seen to disrupt the structure, a process called denaturing. This destroys the activity of the protein. See clips K004 3256 and 3257 for the protein in heat and alkali.
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