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L-Lysine

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Description


Lysine is an α-amino acid that is a precursor to many proteins. It contains an α-amino group (which is in the protonated −NH3+ form under biological conditions), an α-carboxylic acid group (which is in the deprotonated −COO− form under biological conditions), and a side chain lysyl ((CH2)4NH2), classifying it as a basic, charged (at physiological pH), aliphatic amino acid. It is encoded by the codons AAA and AAG. Like almost all other amino acids, the α-carbon is chiral and lysine may refer to either enantiomer or a racemic mixture of both. For the purpose of this article, lysine will refer to the biologically active enantiomer L-lysine, where the α-carbon is in the S configuration.

The human body cannot synthesize lysine. It is essential in humans and must therefore be obtained from the diet. In organisms that synthesise lysine, two main biosynthetic pathways exist, the diaminopimelate and α-aminoadipate pathways, which employ distinct enzymes and substrates and are found in diverse organisms. Lysine catabolism occurs through one of several pathways, the most common of which is the saccharopine pathway.

Lysine plays several roles in humans, most importantly proteinogenesis, but also in the crosslinking of collagen polypeptides, uptake of essential mineral nutrients, and in the production of carnitine, which is key in fatty acid metabolism. Lysine is also often involved in histone modifications, and thus, impacts the epigenome. The ε-amino group often participates in hydrogen bonding and as a general base in catalysis. The ε-ammonium group (NH3+) is attached to the fourth carbon from the α-carbon, which is attached to the carboxyl (C=OOH) group.

Due to its importance in several biological processes, a lack of lysine can lead to several disease states including defective connective tissues, impaired fatty acid metabolism, anaemia, and systemic protein-energy deficiency. In contrast, an overabundance of lysine, caused by ineffective catabolism, can cause severe neurological disorders.

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