The glutamine molecule - rotatable in 3 dimensions


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3 letter code:     gln        1 letter code:    Q
Glutamine is an amino acid containing an amide group. It is effectively glutamic acid with the -OH group on its acidic side chain replaced by a an extra amino group.

Like all amino acids, it has an amino group (-NH2) - blue with 2 white balls - at one end, and a carboxylic acid group (-COOH) - grey, connected to red, and red and white - at the other end. These groups are used to link onto other amino acids by peptide bonds. Between these is the α- (alpha) carbon to which the 'R' group is attached.

Its 'R' group is -(CH2)2-CO-NH2, an ethyl group with an amide group attached. An amide group is a carbonyl group (-C=O) - grey, with red - attached to another amino group - blue with 2 whites - at the other end of the molecule. This extra amino group gives it extra basic characteristics: the amino group can ionise and interact with other R groups within a polypeptide chain. This is independent of the other amino group which is used to form covalent peptide links in a protein.

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Glutamine is said to be the most abundant amino acid in the body, yet it is described as a non-essential amino acid because it can be produced by the body from other amino acids.

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