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Difference Between Amino Acid and Proteins

Main Difference

The main difference between Amino Acid and Proteins is that Amino Acid is the constructing unit of a protein, whereas Proteins play some important functions as functional and structural molecules in the body.

Amino Acid vs. Proteins

An amino acid contains both carboxyl and amino groups. It acts as a simple organic molecule, while proteins are made of one or two amino acid chains and act as large, nitrogenous, organic compounds. The amino acid generally considered as the building structure of proteins; on the other hand, proteins usually considered as the string of amino acids. There are many types of amino acids depending on the R group, whereas different types of protein are Structural, Receptors, Enzymes, Collagen, Keratin, and other functional proteins.

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Only a few types of amino acid could have synthesized inside the body of living organisms and must get from the food that we eat, which should be protein-rich foods. On the contrary, all type of proteins is generally synthesized and required inside the body. Amino acid usually consists of small molecular mass; on the flip side, proteins considered as macromolecules, so they have larger molecular mass.

An amino acid usually formed of a hydrogen atom (H), an amino group (NH2), a carboxylic acid group (COOH), and a side chain variable (R). In contrast, proteins composed of amino acids that are joined together through peptide bonds.

The amino acid is involved in the synthesis of proteins in the body of living organisms, and these proteins perform many functions in the body; on the other hand, protein plays a role in the structural, functional, and regulatory molecule in the body of living ones.

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Comparison Chart

Amino AcidProteins
The constructional and structural unit of protein is known as an amino acidProteins perform various structural and functional molecules in the biological bodies
Act As
Contains both carboxyl and amino group and act as a simple organic moleculeMade of one or two amino acid chains and act as large, nitrogenous, organic compound
Correlation
Considered as the building structure of proteinsConsidered as the string of amino acids
Synthesis Inside the Body
A few types of amino acid could have synthesized inside the bodyAll type of proteins is synthesized and required inside the body
Molecular Mass
Small molecular massThey have a larger molecular mass
Number
Twenty types of amino used in the formation of the proteinsMore than 10 million types of proteins formed
Structure
Usually formed of a hydrogen atom (H), an amino group (NH2), a carboxylic acid group (COOH), and a side chain variable (R)Composed of amino acids that are joined together through peptide bonds
Function
Involved in the synthesis of proteinsPlays a role in the structural, functional, and regulatory molecule in the body of living ones
Types
Many types of amino acid depending on the R groupDifferent types are Structural, Receptors, Enzymes, Collagen, Keratin, and other functional proteins
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What is Amino Acid?

An amino acid is considered the simple organic molecule in the body of living ones. Normally there are present about twenty different types of amino acids, which mainly act as constructional or building units of proteins. The twenty amino acids are called universal amino acids.

The amino acid consists of both carboxyl and amino groups, which are generally attached to the same carbon atom. All types of amino acids in the living body share a basic, common structure, which includes four chemical groups that usually joined to the central carbon atom. The four chemical groups are known as an Amino group (NH2), a hydrogen atom (H), a carboxylic group (COOH), and a side chain variable (R).

On the base of the formation of the side chain variable ‘R,’ the chemical and physical properties of the universal amino acids may differ from each other due to many reasons. Each universal amino acid generally represented by a codon in the which is present in the genetic code.

The code in each universal amino acid has a codon sequence of a special protein, which is determined by the nucleotide arrangement of the gene. Genes that are present in the chromosomes normally transcribed into mRNA and these mRNAs are only translated with the help of ribosomes to synthesize a primary protein.

The ‘R’ group in amino acids is another atom or a group of atoms that are bonded to the central atom and mainly determines the distinctiveness of amino acid. For example, if the R group contains an H atom, then the amino acid will be called glycine, and if it’s a methyl CH3 group, then the amino acid will be alanine.

The further two types of amino acids, other than the twenty universal (essential) amino acids, can be recognized as the adapted alternatives only in certain organisms. The modified variants are known as selenocysteine and pyrrolysine.

What are Proteins?

The abundantly found organic molecules are proteins, which is a macromolecule. So it is a large, nitrogenous, organic compound, mainly made from one or more types of chains of amino acids.

A protein molecule synthesized by the substitute association of universal amino acids. So, proteins considered polymers. The proteins are also called polypeptides because of peptide bond bonds produced between amino groups and carboxyl groups. Normally, a normal polypeptide may contain about 50-2000 different types of amino acids.

Proteins are considered as the most complex and dynamic molecule because it consists of four structural levels: primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary structure. The different types of proteins are synthesized in the body by the different variant combinations of many amino acids.

The human body consists of 20,000 to 25,000 protein-coding genes, which synthesized about 2 million different types of proteins. Though, the body of humans contains approximately 50,000 proteins. The study of functions and structures of different proteins in living organisms is known as proteomics.

Key Differences

  1. The building block of proteins is amino acids, whereas the string of amino acids is known as proteins.
  2. An amino acid consists of small molecular mass, while proteins have high molecular mass.
  3. About twenty essential amino acids are involved in the production of proteins; on the other hand, approximately more than 10 million of many types of proteins are synthesized in the body of biological organisms.
  4. Some amino acids can be produced inside the body; on the contrary, all types of proteins are usually synthesized inside the body of living organisms.
  5. Amino acids are small organic molecules containing both carboxyl and amino groups; on the flip side, proteins are generally large, organic, nitrogenous compounds, made of one or more types of chains of amino acids.
  6. The composition of amino acid consists of an amino group (NH2) a carboxylic acid group (COOH), a hydrogen atom (H), and a variable side chain (R); on the other hand, proteins are synthesized by amino acids which are linked together with the help of peptide bonds.
  7. The amino acid is mainly involved in the production of the protein; on the other hand, proteins have many uses, including serving as structural, functional, and a regulatory molecule in the bodies of living ones.

Conclusion

The above discussion concludes that both amino acid and proteins have their structure and function in the body in which amino acid is the building block of protein, and protein is the abundant biomolecule in the body, which acts as a structural, functional, and regulatory molecule.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White