Tryptophan

Photograph of Tryptophan under the microscope.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that must be obtained from the diet. The unusual indole side chain of tryptophan is also the nucleus of the important neurotransmitter serotonin, which is biosynthesized from tryptophan. The aromatic portion of tryptophan also serves as an ultraviolet marker for detection of this amino acid either separately, or incorporated into proteins and enzymes, via ultraviolet spectrophotometry. Tryptophan is incorporated into proteins and enzymes at the molar rate of 1.1 percent compared to other amino acids making it the rarest amino acid found in proteins.

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