O

Phe titration. The only other side-chain groups that exhibit any significant degree of dissociation are the para-OH group of tyrosine and the —SH group of cysteine. The pKa of the cysteine sulfhydryl is 8.32, so that it is about 12% dissociated at pH 7. The tyrosine para-OH group is a very weakly acidic group, with a pKa of about 10.1. This group is essentially fully protonated and uncharged at pH 7.

4.3 • Reactions of Amino Acids

Carboxyl and Amino Group Reactions

The «-carboxyl and «-amino groups of all amino acids exhibit similar chemical reactivity. The side chains, however, exhibit specific chemical reactivities, depending on the nature of the functional groups. Whereas all of these reactivities are important in the study and analysis of isolated amino acids, it is the characteristic behavior of the side chain that governs the reactivity of amino acids incorporated into proteins. There are three reasons to consider these reactivities. Proteins can be chemically modified in very specific ways by taking advantage of the chemical reactivity of certain amino acid side chains. The detection and quantification of amino acids and proteins often depend on reactions that are specific to one or more amino acids and that result in color, radioactivity, or some other quantity that can be easily measured. Finally and most importantly, the biological functions of proteins depend on the behavior and reactivity of specific R groups.

The carboxyl groups of amino acids undergo all the simple reactions common to this functional group. Reaction with ammonia and primary amines yields unsubstituted and substituted amides, respectively (Figure 4.9a,b). Esters

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