Difference between Amino Acid and Protein

Table of Contents

  • What are Amino Acids?
  • What are Proteins?
  • Amino Acids vs Proteins
  • What Are Amino Acids?

    Amino acids are organic compounds that are composed of an amino and a carboxylic group with a side chain (designated as R) unique to all amino acids. The amino acids are building blocks of proteins. 20 amino acids have been identified in the universal genetic code.

    Amino acids can exist as both an acidic and a basic ion, known as the zwitterion. Compounds that can exist as both acid and base are known as amphoteric. Amino acids are found as the second largest component in the muscle but in the form of proteins.

    Refer: Amino Acids – Properties, Functions, Sources and its Deficiency

    What Are Proteins?

    Proteins are macromolecules that are formed from residues of amino acids arranged in a chain. The proteins perform a vast array of functions such as DNA replication, catalysing metabolic reactions, transportation of molecules, providing structure to cells and responding to stimuli.

    A simple linear chain of amino acids is called a polypeptide. A protein is made up of one or more chains of polypeptides. Short polypeptide chains with 20-30 amino acids are not considered proteins, they are simply referred to as peptides. Amino acids in a protein are held together by peptide bonds.

    Refer: The Basics of Protein – Its Structure and Functions

    Amino Acids vs Proteins

    Amino Acids



    Amino acids are organic compounds that are made up of an amino group, a carboxylic group and a varying side chain.

    Proteins are nitrogenous macromolecules that are made up of chains of amino acids.


    It is the building block of proteins.

    It is a string of amino acids.

    Molecular Mass

    Amino acids have a smaller molecular mass.

    Proteins have a larger molecular mass.


    All the 20 amino acids are not synthesised in our body.

    All the proteins are synthesised in our body.


    It is composed of an amino group, a carboxylic group and a varying side chain.

    It is made up of amino acids joined together by peptide bonds.


    It is involved in the synthesis of proteins.

    It functions to provide structure to cells, catalyses metabolic reactions and takes part in DNA replication.

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