Protein and Its Significances

From microbes to mankind, protein is essential to all life. While the human body alone has over two million different proteins, the world in which we live is said to contain in excess of 10 million separate proteins.

Proteins are composed of 22 standard amino acids, the basic building blocks of life, that link and fold together into molecular chains. These molecular chains combine together to make peptides, polypeptides, and proteins. Because these 22 amino acids can be linked together in arbitrary sequences, the total space of possible proteins is exponential, with a value of approximately 2030,000. We live surrounded in a world filled with proteins.  They are indeed woven into the “fabric of life.”

Like other biological macromolecules such as polysaccharides and nucleic acids, proteins are essential parts of organisms and participate in virtually every process within cells. Many proteins are enzymes that catalyze biochemical reactions and are vital to metabolism. Proteins also have structural or mechanical functions, such as actin and myosin in muscle and the proteins in the cytoskeleton, which form a system of scaffolding that maintains cell shape. Other proteins are important in cell signaling, immune responses, cell adhesion, and the cell cycle. Proteins are also necessary in animals’ diets, since animals cannot synthesize all the amino acids they need and must obtain essential amino acids from food.

From a human nutritional perspective, proteins are divided into animal and plant proteins. Animal proteins are considered complete proteins, in that they contain all the essential amino acids necessary for proper human nutrition; for building and maintaining muscle tissue, body organs, skin, hair, maintaining cellular activity, etc. Many proteins are enzymes that catalyze biochemical reactions and are vital to metabolism; the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life. Through the process of digestion, humans and animals break-down ingested protein into free amino acids that are then used in metabolism.

In nutrition, proteins are broken down in the stomach during digestion by enzymes known as proteases into smaller polypeptides to provide amino acids for the organism, including the essential amino acids that the organism cannot biosynthesize itself. Aside from their role in protein synthesis, amino acids are also important nutritional sources of nitrogen.

By contrast, vegetable proteins lack one or more essential amino acids and are referred to as “incomplete” or “low quality” proteins. That’s why it requires a combination of vegetable proteins consumed together for the human body to survive on vegetable proteins. It is for this reason that Asta believes its animal derived PPP will become a significant source of “protein” for use in the human food chain.

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