What is Lysine? - Structure & Uses

Instructor: Brekke Peterson Munks
Did you know that lysine is an essential amino acid? In this lesson you will learn about lysine, it's unique structure and it's role in everyday life of organisms. You can then check your understanding by taking a short quiz.

Definition of Lysine

Have you heard of amino acids? Amino acids are vital to live and are broken into two categories: essential and non-essential amino acids. Humans require 20 amino acids in order to function normally. Of these twenty, there are around 10 that are essential amino acids, meaning we humans cannot make them from other chemicals in our body and must obtain these amino acids from our diet.

The amino acid lysine is one of these essential amino acids and is found in proteins. Without lysine, animals do not absorb calcium, make collagen, create antibodies, enzymes or hormones and is vital in growing animals and eyesight. Lysine is at the base of life on the planet.

The Structure of Lysine

In general, all amino acids have the same structure: an amino group attached to a hydrogen, a carboxyl group and a side chain group, denoted by 'R' via a central carbon. The amino and carboxyl groups and central carbon are considered the amino acid backbone and is the same in all amino acids. It is the side chain that is specific to each amino acid.

Amino acid structure
Amino acid structure

The specific structure of lysine is indicative of its chemical formula, C6H14N2O2. This structure attaches to the central carbon of the amino acid back bone. Lysine is a linear amino acid molecule. Lysine is a base, much like arginine and histidine. Lysine is positively charged in nature. This amino acid is water soluble. Lysine is a hydrogen bonder. Plants and bacteria can synthesize lysine from another amino acid called aspartic acid. When studying lysine, the abbreviation Lys or K might appear; both are indicative of lysine.


The Function of Lysine

Lysine is vital to life. This amino acids provides glucose to the body through metabolism. Lysine is metabolized into acetyl-CoA to form adenosine triphosphate, the energy currency of the body. This is done in the citric acid cycle in animals. A derivative of lysine, allysine is used to produce collagen and elastin. This allows skin to be bouncy, joints to be cushioned and structures to be stabilized.

Lysine is very important in proteins for vision and has shown to have some help in the reduction of cold sores. Without lysine, individuals can become blind or developing babies can be blind if deficient. Perhaps the most important function of lysine is the ability to allow calcium absorption to form bone.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account