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What Is Elastin? - Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:02 Elastin Defined
  • 0:41 Function
  • 2:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

Human bodies contain hundreds of proteins that perform specific functions. In this lesson, we'll examine the protein elastin to understand how it functions in our bodies.

Elastin Defined

Proteins are crucial to all living organisms. They're made of a sequence of amino acids that have been folded into a particular shape. The shape of a protein determines its function within the organism. You could say that a protein fits into a space like a key into a lock.

The protein elastin is found in connective tissues throughout the body. It is notably found in the extracellular matrix of the skin as well as the internal organs of the body. You may have noticed that the name elastin sounds much like 'elastic.' This is no coincidence. The elastin protein is flexible and gives many tissues their elasticity.

Function

If you pinch the skin on your arm and then release it, you'll notice that it snaps back into place. Your skin is able to do this because it contains elastin. This is a very important quality - just imagine the trouble and difficulty you would have if your skin could not snap back into its rightful place.

Elastin is also a crucial component in the lining of veins and arteries. When you go to the doctor, one of the first things they probably do is check your blood pressure. Changes in our bodies cause our blood pressure to increase and decrease throughout the day. It is important for our veins and arteries to be able to adjust to the changes in pressure. The elasticity of the elastin protein allows for this adjustment.

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