We all know about protein, and how important it is to our health – we try and eat foods with high amounts of protein in them so we can become more energized, fit, healthy, lean, and mean, right?
But sometimes when you dig deeper into the real science of things like strange words like monomers, just some words like these are actually important.
Monomers (amino acid sequence) are actually crucial for your health and your fitness goals.
Monomers are getting into the real science behind the protein that you eat and which is so important for your health.
What are the Monomers and Polymers of Protein?
First, what are proteins?
So before we learn about the monomers of proteins, we need to understand what the proteins are.
Proteins are resources that are produced by plants, animals, and microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.
Proteins are formed when large numbers of monomer units are joined.
Proteins make up more than 50% of the dry weight of our cells.
Proteins are studied extensively because of their functions, properties, and applications, particularly in modern science today.
As biomolecules, proteins are responsible for carrying out major functions in our biological systems.
And what are the monomers of proteins?
Well, we already know that protein plays a big role in many of our bodily processes.
But did you know that amino acids are actually called the monomers of proteins?
They are the building blocks of proteins .
And when you get multiple chains of amino acids, the new polypeptide chain formed are called polymers.
And complete proteins are proteins that have all nine essential amino acids in them.
Generally, what a monomer is
A monomer, in general, is a small molecule. But when this small molecule joins up with other molecules, you get a polymer.
It makes sense to say, then, that the polymer’s structure and function will depend on the monomers.
When talking about proteins, you can equate them with proteins that depend largely on the amino acids that comprise protein.
The amino acids are able to differentiate proteins from other molecules, such as carbs, lipids, or nucleic acids .
When these amino acids are joined, they form a sequence that determines what the protein’s size, shape, and function are.
Amino acids in proteins are also the reason why proteins differ from each other.
Two different proteins will contain amino acids that are different.
Why are amino acids different from each other?
It’s hard to figure out seeing they all have the same chemical formula and structure.
A central carbon atom forms part of one amino acid.
The central carbon atom is bonded to four different groups  which can form proteins of various strengths, and the structure of covalent bonds called peptide bonds.
The peptides bond are further linked to form polypeptide chains. These polypeptides form the building blocks of the various simple sequences of amino acids in our complex protein foods.
- The carboxyl group (–COOH):
- The amino group (–NH2)
- The hydrogen atom
- The R-group: side chain that identifies each amino acid.
The type and number of amino acids in proteins allow us to differentiate between complete proteins and incomplete proteins.
Incomplete proteins might contain some, but not all essential amino acids.
You will find incomplete proteins in plants like beans, peas, and lentils.
Complete proteins do contain all nine essential amino acids.
These amino acids the body can’t produce on its own. Some examples of complete proteins are fish, eggs, and chia seeds.
The amino acid sequence: structure of polypeptide chain
A protein monomer is one amino acid. Monomers can form polypeptide chains joined by peptide bonds, forming large molecules of proteins of different sequences as below.
- Primary structure
- Secondary structures: Protein with a secondary structure means that there is a regular folding of the peptide backbone which has weak interactions of hydrogen bonds between amide hydrogens and carbonyl oxygens. Examples are the α-helix and a β-helix structure.
- Tertiary structure
- quaternary structure
What roles does protein play in the body?
It carries out major functions. These are:
1) Proteins provide structure
It is collagen, elastin, and keratin that give our tissues and cells stiffness, and rigidity.
It is all the proteins of varieties of chemical bonds that keep the body together.
2) Proteins help you to grow and also to maintain tissue
Protein is what helps the tissues to grow and to be maintained. Because muscles are tissues, you can use protein to increase them .
As you know, the body constantly breaks down protein.
But if it breaks down more than it creates, somehow, you are going to need to get in more protein.
With protein intake, you have to do your part though.
You need to exercise and watch your diet if you want to see the results.
3) Proteins transport nutrients through our bodies
From the transport of oxygen to the transport of other nutrients and bioactive compounds, proteins offers a key role to living cells in our bodies.
Proteins carry minerals and vitamins through the bloodstream, ensuring that all the cells can function properly.
4) Protein boosts the immune system
Protein is the body acts as an antibody to help you fight infection.
So if a virus attacks your cells, your body produces a protective protein.
It’s called immunoglobulin .
In fact, the body wouldn’t be able to fight off virus attacks without immunoglobulin.
5) Proteins result in biochemical reactions
Enzymes are proteins – and they stimulate chemical reactions.
When enzymes combine with other molecules outside and inside a cell, they perform functions like blood clotting, digestion, energy production, and muscle contraction.
6) Nucleic acids
DNA and RNA are nucleic acids that store information about making new proteins.
They are naturally occurring compounds that is an important subject in molecular biology studies.
They are linked with information storage, and gene expression which genotypic and physical properties of living organisms.
Glutamic acid and aspartic acid, are important compounds in the formation of proteins. For example in the formation of brain cells.
Is it a priority to get in proteins?
Yes, for reaching your fitness goals and for the natural processes of the body. And for that protein, you need amino acids.
Amino acids need to be supplied to your body through food.
We know amino acids are the building blocks or monomers from which all proteins or polymers are made.
Most of the proteins are made up of entirely amino acids, or only 20 amino acids.
Although there are a few other amino acids in some proteins, we need to differentiate the variations in molecular size of different proteins.
Since there are 20 different kinds of amino acids as the building blocks of protein, of which 10 are very essential and 10 are not so essential, all the combinations of just about 90,000 proteins are a huge effort.
What are the polymers and monomers of protein?
We saw that a monomer is a single molecule. It can be joined together with others of the same molecules.
That forms a polymer.
The building blocks of proteins, and amino acids, contain elements such as N, H, O, C, and others .
They are the monomers of proteins.
When thousands or hundreds of amino acids join together, then they create proteins.
These proteins are then used for a lot of tasks in organisms.
They do work in cells and help with DNA replications, and more.
Bottom line is that the amino acids are the monomers and the polymers are the proteins.
Yes, it is complicated, but we hope you understand it better.
Check out this cool sketch to help you to see the difference between polymers and monomers.
-  https://www.ebi.ac.uk/training/online/courses/biomacromolecular-structures/biomacromolecular-structures/#:~:text=For%20example%2C%20proteins%20are%20composed,functional%20protein%20(Figure%201).
-  https://bio.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Biochemistry/Book%3A_Biochemistry_Free_For_All_(Ahern_Rajagopal_and_Tan)/02%3A_Structure_and_Function/203%3A_Structure__Function-_Proteins_I
-  https://bio.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Biochemistry/Book%3A_Biochemistry_Free_For_All_(Ahern_Rajagopal_and_Tan)/02%3A_Structure_and_Function/202%3A_Structure__Function_-_Amino_Acids
-  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20048505/
-  https://www.creativebiomart.net/researcharea-immunoglobulins-proteins_82.htm
-  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26830/