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Asparagine

Asparagine got its name from the name of plant asparagus (aka sparrow grass). This is due to the fact that the amnino acid was first isolated from the plant juice. It is not just a coincidence, though. Asparagine is important for plant metabolism due to its high nitrogen content (two N atoms, N/C atom ratio 1:1), while storage and metabolism of nitrogen has a paramount importance for agricultures.

In proteins, asparagine may have different functions. This is a polar residue, which may be placed on a polar exterior of a globular protein. The amino acid side chain has both, hydrogen bond donor (NH2) and acceptor (C=O) places, this can be utilized for hydrogen bonding, or in catalysis. It is also common that the nitrogen atom of asparagine is glycosylated.

Interesting readings:
  • Lea, P. G. et al. Asparagine in plants. Ann, Appl. Biol., 150, 2007, 1-26, doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7348.2006.00104.x
  • Imperiali, B. and Rickert, K. W. Conformational implications of asparagine-linked glycosylation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 92, 1995, 97-101, doi: 10.1073/pnas.92.1.97

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