What is Denaturation of Proteins?
Denaturation implies the destruction of the tertiary structure of a protein molecule and the formation of random polypeptide chains.
Denaturation of proteins is one of the phenomenons that results in the disturbance of stability and structure of the protein. 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.
What causes Denaturation of Proteins?
These biomolecules are also required for the proper maintenance of our bodies. We have studied about the different structures of proteins; it has a unique three-dimensional structure.
The 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 the 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.
Also Read: Laboratory Test of Proteins
Process of Denaturation of Proteins
- Secondary, tertiary and quaternary protein structure is easily changed by a process called denaturation. These changes can be quite damaging.
- Heating, exposure to acids or bases and even violent physical action can cause denaturation to occur.
- The albumin protein in egg white is denatured by heating so that it forms a semisolid mass. Almost the same thing is accomplished by the violent physical action of an egg beater in the preparation of meringue.
- Heavy metal poisons such as lead and cadmium change the structure of proteins by binding to functional groups on the protein surface.
- Denaturation of proteins can be done by bringing in physical changes as well as the introduction of chemicals.
- Most of the denaturation processes are irreversible, but it has been seen (in very few cases) that some of the denaturation processes 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 the formation of lactic acid by microbial action results in denaturation.
Protein is a vast subject of research in science. The development of 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 the denaturation of proteins, download BYJU’S – The Learning App.