Denaturation of proteins : Chemistry of proteins and their stability

The chemistry of proteins has always been important owing to the abundance of these biomolecules in the living system. The fundamental blocks of our body structure and their functioning require protein. This protein is supplied to our body through food products such as pulses, cheese, milk, meat, nuts etc. These biomolecules are also required for proper maintenance of our body. We have studied about the different structures of proteins; it has a unique three-dimensional structure. Denaturation of proteins is one of the phenomenons that results in the disturbance of stability and structure of protein.

Denaturation of proteinsThe stability of protein and its structure depends on physical and chemical conditions. Temperature and pH affect their stability to a great extent. Denaturation of the proteins is a condition when the unique three dimensional structure of a protein is exposed to changes. Due to changes in temperature, pH or other chemical activities, the hydrogen bonds present in the proteins get disturbed. This results in the unfolding of globular proteins and uncoiling of the helix structure. The uncoiling of helix structure affects the chemistry of proteins and they lose their biological activity. This phenomenon of losing their activity and uncoiling of helix structure due to physical or chemical changes is called as denaturation of proteins. During denaturation of proteins, the secondary and tertiary structures get destroyed and only the primary structure is retained. Covalent bonds are broken and interaction between amino-acid chains gets disrupted. This results in the loss of biological activity of the proteins.

Process of denaturation of proteins:

Denaturation of proteins can be done by bringing in physical changes as well as introduction of chemicals. Most of the denaturation processes are irreversible, but it has been seen (in very few cases) that some of the denaturation process can be reversed; it is then called as renaturation of protein.

Some of the common cases of denaturation of proteins are coagulation of egg white, when an egg is subjected to boiling. Here the denaturation occurs due to change in temperature. Curdling of milk is another example of denaturation of proteins where formation of lactic acid by microbial action results in the denaturation.

Protein is a vast subject of research in science. The development in technology has rendered us the ability to extract so much information about these biomolecules. Learning is a continuous process and even the scientists keep learning new things about these biomolecules.  To learn more about denaturation of proteins, download Byju’s – the learning app.


Practise This Question

Which of the following is the example of structural protein?