|A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®|
What are proteins and what do they do?
Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs.
Proteins are made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein. The sequence of amino acids determines each protein’s unique 3-dimensional structure and its specific function.
Proteins can be described according to their large range of functions in the body, listed in alphabetical order:
For more information about proteins and their functions:
KidsHealth from Nemours offers a basic overview of
Nature Education’s Scitable offers information on the function of
Arizona State University’s “Ask a Biologist” discusses the different kinds of