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Simple Protein vs. Conjugated Protein: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 8, 2024
Simple proteins are made only of amino acids. Conjugated proteins contain a protein part plus a non-protein group (prosthetic group).

Key Differences

Simple proteins are composed solely of amino acids and yield only amino acids upon hydrolysis. Conjugated proteins have a prosthetic group in addition to the amino acids.
When hydrolyzed, simple proteins break down into their constituent amino acids. In contrast, conjugated proteins yield both amino acids and their specific non-protein parts.
Examples of simple proteins include albumin and globulin, crucial for various biological functions. Conjugated proteins include hemoglobin, which contains a heme group along with the protein part.
The structure of simple proteins is determined by the sequence and nature of the amino acids. Conjugated proteins have a more complex structure due to the presence of the prosthetic group.
In biological processes, simple proteins often play roles in structure and enzymes. Conjugated proteins are involved in more specialized functions like transport and storage of other molecules.

Comparison Chart


Only amino acids
Amino acids + non-protein group

Hydrolysis Products

Amino acids
Amino acids + prosthetic group


Albumin, Globulin
Hemoglobin, Enzymes with co-factors

Structural Complexity

Less complex
More complex due to additional group

Biological Role

Structural, enzymatic
Transport, storage, specialized functions

Simple Protein and Conjugated Protein Definitions

Simple Protein

Plays roles in cell structure and function.
Keratin, a simple protein, is key for hair and nail strength.

Conjugated Protein

Essential for transporting and storing molecules.
Transferrin, a conjugated protein, transports iron in the body.

Simple Protein

Proteins composed exclusively of amino acids.
Albumin, a simple protein, is abundant in egg whites.

Conjugated Protein

Involved in specialized biological functions.
Cytochromes, conjugated proteins, play a role in cell respiration.

Simple Protein

Primary structure determined by amino acid sequence.
Myosin is a simple protein crucial for muscle contraction.

Conjugated Protein

Proteins combined with a non-protein group.
Hemoglobin, a conjugated protein, carries oxygen in blood.

Simple Protein

Includes proteins like enzymes without prosthetic groups.
The enzyme pepsin is a simple protein aiding digestion.

Conjugated Protein

Contains a prosthetic group in addition to amino acids.
Chlorophyll, a conjugated protein, is essential in photosynthesis.

Simple Protein

Yields only amino acids on hydrolysis.
Collagen, a simple protein, breaks down into amino acids.

Conjugated Protein

More complex than simple proteins due to additional groups.
Glycoproteins, conjugated proteins, are vital for cell recognition.


Are simple proteins involved in cell structure?

Yes, they play a key role.

Are conjugated proteins more complex?

Yes, due to their additional components.

Is hemoglobin a simple or conjugated protein?

Hemoglobin is a conjugated protein.

What defines a simple protein?

Composed solely of amino acids.

Is albumin a simple or conjugated protein?

Albumin is a simple protein.

What distinguishes a conjugated protein?

Presence of a non-protein group.

Are all proteins either simple or conjugated?

Most fit into these categories, but there are exceptions.

Are simple proteins easy to digest?

Generally, they are more easily digested.

Are hormones classified as simple proteins?

Some hormones are, but not all.

Can simple proteins act as enzymes?

Yes, but without additional prosthetic groups.

Do conjugated proteins have special functions?

Yes, like oxygen transport or enzyme action.

What role do conjugated proteins play in immunity?

They are key in immune responses, like antibodies.

Can conjugated proteins transport molecules?

Yes, many are involved in transport.

Can conjugated proteins be enzymes?

Yes, especially those with co-factors.

Is gluten a simple or conjugated protein?

Gluten is considered a simple protein.

Are simple proteins soluble in water?

Some are, like albumin, but not all.

Do conjugated proteins include lipoproteins?

Yes, lipoproteins are a type of conjugated protein.

How are conjugated proteins studied?

Through biochemical and structural analysis.

Can simple proteins form fibers?

Yes, like collagen and keratin.

Are vitamins a part of conjugated proteins?

Some vitamins act as co-factors in conjugated enzymes.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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