alanine

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alanine

(ăl`ənēn'), organic compound, one of the 20 amino acidsamino acid
, any one of a class of simple organic compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and in certain cases sulfur. These compounds are the building blocks of proteins.
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 commonly found in animal proteins. Only the l-stereoisomer participates in the biosynthesis of proteins (see stereochemistrystereochemistry,
study of the three-dimensional configuration of the atoms that make up a molecule and the ways in which this arrangement affects the physical and chemical properties of the molecule.
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). Its side chain is a nonpolar, hydrophobic methyl group. The low reactivity of the amino acid permits silk, a protein which contains some 30% alanine, to have a simple, elongated structure with few cross-links. This contributes to the desirable features of the fiber-strength, resistance to stretching, and flexibility. Alanine is not essential to the human diet, since it can be synthesized from other cellular metabolites. It was discovered in protein in 1875.

alanine

[′al·ə‚nēn]
(biochemistry)
C3H7NO2 A white, crystalline, nonessential amino acid of the pyruvic acid family.