Protein precursor
A protein precursor, also called a pro-protein or pro-peptide, is an inactive protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

 (or peptide
Peptides are short polymers of amino acid monomers linked by peptide bonds. They are distinguished from proteins on the basis of size, typically containing less than 50 monomer units. The shortest peptides are dipeptides, consisting of two amino acids joined by a single peptide bond...

) that can be turned into an active form by posttranslational modification
Posttranslational modification
Posttranslational modification is the chemical modification of a protein after its translation. It is one of the later steps in protein biosynthesis, and thus gene expression, for many proteins....

. The name of the precursor for a protein is often prefixed by pro. Examples include proinsulin
Proinsulin is the prohormone precursor to insulin made in the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans, specialized regions of the pancreas. In humans, proinsulin is encoded by the INS gene.- Synthesis and post-translational modification :...

 and proopiomelanocortin
Pro-opiomelanocortin is a precursor polypeptide with 241 amino acid residues. POMC is synthesized from the 285-amino acid long polypeptide precursor, pre-pro-opiomelanocortin , by the removal of a 44-amino acid long signal peptide sequence during translation.The POMC gene is located on chromosome...


Protein precursors are often used by an organism when the subsequent protein is potentially harmful, but needs to be available on short notice and/or in large quantities. Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

 precursors are called zymogen
A zymogen is an inactive enzyme precursor. A zymogen requires a biochemical change for it to become an active enzyme. The biochemical change usually occurs in a lysosome where a specific part of the precursor enzyme is cleaved in order to activate it...

s or proenzymes. Examples are enzymes of the digestive tract in humans.

Some protein precursors are secreted from the cell. Many of these are synthesized with an N-terminal signal peptide
Signal peptide
A signal peptide is a short peptide chain that directs the transport of a protein.Signal peptides may also be called targeting signals, signal sequences, transit peptides, or localization signals....

 that targets them for secretion. Like other proteins that contain a signal peptide, their name is prefixed by pre. They are thus called pre-pro-proteins or pre-pro-peptides. The signal peptide is cleaved off in the endoplasmic reticulum
Endoplasmic reticulum
The endoplasmic reticulum is an organelle of cells in eukaryotic organisms that forms an interconnected network of tubules, vesicles, and cisternae...

. An example is preproinsulin
Preproinsulin is the primary translation product of the insulin gene. It is a peptide of 110 amino acids. Preproinsulin is a precursor processed by proteases to proinsulin by removal of the signal peptide and then to insulin by removal of the connecting peptide in order to be biologically...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.