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Question Video: Describing the Process of Deamination Biology

An important function the liver has in the human body is to carry out the deamination of amino acids. What happens to an amino acid undergoing deamination? [A] It has an amino group added. [B] It has an amino group removed. [C] It is converted into ammonia. [D] It reacts with ammonia to form carbon dioxide. [E] It has a carboxyl group removed.

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Video Transcript

An important function the liver has in the human body is to carry out the deamination of amino acids. What happens to an amino acid undergoing deamination? (A) It has an amino group added. (B) It has an amino group removed. (C) It is converted into ammonia. (D) It reacts with ammonia to form carbon dioxide. Or (E) it has a carboxyl group removed.

This question asks us about a very important function that occurs in the human liver: the deamination of amino acids. To figure out the answer, let’s review some key facts about a couple of the many functions of the liver: detoxification and excretion. Proteins in the food that we eat are broken down in the human digestive system into smaller units called amino acids. You might recall that the basic structure of an amino acid has a central carbon atom, the 𝛼 carbon, that can form four bonds. One bond is formed with an amino group, NH2, one with a carboxyl group, COOH, one with a hydrogen, and one with a side chain that is variable depending on the amino acid, often represented as R.

Not all of the amino acids that are produced from the breakdown of proteins can be stored. And they need to be broken down by the liver into molecules that can be used by or excreted from the body. To do this, the liver cells carry out deamination, which involves the amino groups being removed from these excess amino acids. This converts them into organic acids that can now be used by the body cells. Deamination also produces a highly toxic byproduct called ammonia, which is typically detoxified in the liver cells, forming a less harmful molecule called urea, which can be removed from the body as a part of urine.

After reviewing the structure of amino acids and the process of deamination in the liver, we have enough information to determine what happens to an amino acid undergoing deamination and therefore answer this question correctly. The correct answer is (B). It has an amino group removed.

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