Maximum Protein Chain
Name: Rhonda D.
What is the maximum number (to date) of amino acids in a
One of my inquiring students wants to know. We know that one is the
minimum, but what is the record maximum?
Rhonda, There are many proteins in the thousands range. I used to work on a
protein called "fat" that was over 5000 amino acids. A great many proteins
are listed at the GenBank site, although it will take a bit of work to
extract the information you want. For starters, look up the muscle protein
called "titan" (I think that is the name). As I recall, that was one of the
largest I had seen. By the way, one amino acid is not generally considered a
Paul Mahoney, PhD
First off, one amino acid, does not make a chain...two is the minimum. I
give you examples of protein sizes in kilodaltons. Milk lipase...6.7;
Myoglobin...16.9; catalase 222; The largest I know of is...Turnip yellow
mosaic virus protein at a whopping 3013 kD ! (a Dalton is 1/12 the mass of a
carbon atom)...a kilodalton = 1000 daltons. To put this in perspective....
Cytochrome C protein has 103 amino acids and weighs in at 13.4 kilodaltons.
Insulin is rather small and has 51 amino acids. Hemoglobin is rather large,
One hemoglobin molecule is made up of 4 polypeptide (biologists prefer to
use polypeptide for the parts of a multichain protein) chains: two alpha
chains, each with 141 amino acids and two beta chains, each with 146 amino
acids...which gives 574 amino acids in this one multichained (oligometric)
Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Office of Science
Department of Energy
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Update: June 2012