miscellaneous slide











A is for ALANINE

a poem by Greg Crowther


A is for ALANINE, three carbons long;
C is for CYSTEINE, with a sulfhydryl prong.
D is ASPARTATE, a good proton source,
And E, GLUTAMATE, is one also, of course.

F, PHENYLALANINE, has benzene on board;
GLYCINE, or G, wins the small-size award.
H is for HISTIDINE. What a great buffer!
And water prompts I, ISOLEUCINE, to suffer.

K: LYSINE's high on the pKa scale;
L is for LEUCINE, with its long Y-shaped tail.
M is METHIONINE, that sulfury lout,
And N is ASPARAGINE, an amide, no doubt.

P: PROLINE flaunts its odd ring like a bride;
Q, GLUTAMINE, is another amide.
R, ARGININE, has four nitrogens in all.
And S is for SERINE, a petite alcohol.

T is for THREONINE, similar to S;
V is for VALINE. Aliphatic? Why, yes!
W -- that's TRYPTOPHAN -- has rings at the end,
And Y, TYROSINE, is the kinases' friend.

Which brings us right back to the start of the song:
A is for ALANINE, three carbons long.


This poem presents a brief review of amino acid abbreviations and structures. Among the featured facts are the following: HISTIDINE has a pKa close to the normal pH of the cytosol and therefore is an effective intracellular buffer; the R group of ISOLEUCINE is hydrophobic; and many protein kinases add a phosphate at the -OH site of TYROSINE.