How Are Proteins Made?


Quick Answer

Proteins are assembled inside the body's cells by arranging amino acids into specific linear sequences and releasing them. After release from the assembly organelles, the amino acid chain twists into a three-dimensional shape that allows the protein to carry out certain functions in the body's chemistry.

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Full Answer

Amino acids are synthesized from nutrients delivered to cells via the blood. In eukaryotic cells, they are transported to specialized organelles called the rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum. These structures are membranes close to the nucleus that have convoluted and deeply folded surfaces, providing plenty of surface area to work on.

Long chains of amino acids are assembled by rolling along the surfaces of these membranes, picking up additional amino acids as they go, until they reach the end of the conveyor. On release, the long-chain amino acids snap into shape as proteins. Smaller proteins can be formed within seconds, while larger proteins require more time.

The function of a protein is determined by its shape, and its shape is determined by the order in which amino acids have been assembled in the chain. By modifying the sequence of the amino acids, cells are able to assemble proteins that work as enzymes, transport units, structural supports or any other purpose the body needs filled.

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