Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Amino Acid

One of twenty unit molecules that are the common building blocks of polypeptides or proteins, arranged in a specific order by each gene, called the sequence. In living organisms, amino acids are levorotatory molecules, containing both an amino group (-NH2) and a carboxyl group (-COOH). Amino acids occur naturally in plants and animals. In fossils and some low-turnover living tissue (bone, tooth enamel), L- forms slowly racemize into dextrorotatory molecules at specific rates.

See amino acid racemization and protein synthesis.

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