What are Polypeptides?

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Making a polypeptide chain. Peptide bonds are formed by dehydration reactions, which link the carboxyl group of one amino acid to the amino group of the next. The peptide bonds are formed one at a time, starting with the amino acid at the amino end (N-terminus). The polypeptide has a repetitive backbone (purple) to which the amino acid side chains (yellow and green) are attached.
Source: Urry, Lisa A.. Campbell Biology (p. 78). Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.

What are Polypeptides? (Campbell Biology)

When two amino acids are positioned so that the carboxyl group of one is adjacent to the amino group of the other, they can become joined by a dehydration reaction, with the removal of a water molecule. The resulting covalent bond is called a peptide bond. Repeated over and over, this process yields a polypeptide, a polymer of many amino acids linked by peptide bonds.

The repeating sequence of atoms is called the polypeptide backbone. Extending from this backbone are the different side chains (R groups) of the amino acids. Polypeptides range in length from a few amino acids to 1,000 or more. Each specific polypeptide has a unique linear sequence of amino acids. Note that one end of the polypeptide chain has a free amino group (the N-terminus of the polypeptide), while the opposite end has a free carboxyl group (the C-terminus). The chemical nature of the molecule as a whole is determined by the kind and sequence of the side chains, which determine how a polypeptide folds and thus its final shape and chemical characteristics. The immense variety of polypeptides in nature illustrates an important concept introduced earlier—that cells can make many different polymers by linking a limited set of monomers into diverse sequences.


Urry, Lisa A.. Campbell Biology. Pearson Education. Kindle Edition. https://www.pearson.com/us/higher-education/series/Campbell-Biology-Series/2244849.html

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