An under appreciated amino acid: Proline

Most people have heard of a few of the cooler amino acids like glutamine and alanine, but most people probably wouldn’t be able to say why proline is important too 🤔

Structure of proline: an under appreciated amino acid

What makes proline under appreciated in my opinion is that it isn’t usually a worry for us as our body’s make enough without us getting it from food… but that doesn’t make it unimportant! Proline biosynthesis occurs mainly in the mitochondria of our cells. The mitochondria are extremely important in maintaining cell viability… the so called ‘powerhouse of the cell’ as the meme goes. The role it plays in making proline for our cells is something most people don’t think about.

Proline has a unique structure with a secondary amine that makes it essential in protein synthesis – in particular in the determination of the secondary structure of proteins. One structure it has particular importance in is collagen. Hydroxyproline (a form of proline) makes up a whopping 17% of collagen in our body. Collagen is important in our body for maintaining structure and is present in large quantities in connective tissues.

Proline can be made by the breakdown of proteins including collagen or by de novo biosynthesis from other amino acids glutamine and ornithine.

Proline biosynthesis in the cells of the body!

An interesting point to consider is that in many cancers, proline biosynthesis is upregulated…. but why? Why is proline so important for cancer cells? Could the knowledge of why the cancer cells need it help to form new treatments?

Thanks for reading! If you are interested in knowing more let me know 😊❤


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