Proteins are polypeptides. They are linear chains of amino acids linked by peptide bonds as shown in Figure 2.
Each protein is a polymer of amino acids. As there are 21 types of amino acids (e.g., alanine, cysteine, proline, tryptophan, lysine, etc.), a protein is a heteropolymer and not a homopolymer. A homopolymer has only one type of monomer repeating ‘n’ number of times. This information about the amino acid content is important as later in your nutrition lessons, you will learn that certain amino acids are essential for our health and they have to be supplied through our diet. Hence, dietary proteins are the source of essential amino acids. Therefore, amino acids can be essential or non-essential. The latter are those which our body can make, while we get essential amino acids through our diet/food. Proteins carry out many functions in living organisms, some transport nutrients across cell membrane, some fight infectious organisms, some are hormones, some are enzymes, etc. (Table 5). Collagen is the most abundant protein in animal world and Ribulose bisphosphate Carboxylase-Oxygenase (RUBISCO) is the most abundant protein in the whole of the biosphere.