ListMoto - Cysteine

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(symbol Cys or C)[3] (/ˈsɪstɪiːn/)[4] is a semi-essential[5] proteinogenic amino acid with the formula HO2CCH(NH2)CH2SH. It is encoded by the codons UGU and UGC. The thiol side chain in cysteine often participates in enzymatic reactions, as a nucleophile. The thiol is susceptible to oxidation to give the disulfide derivative cystine, which serves an important structural role in many proteins. When used as a food additive, it has the E number E920. Cysteine
has the same structure as serine, but with one of its oxygen atoms replaced by sulfur; replacing it with selenium gives selenocysteine. (Like other natural proteinogenic amino acids cysteine has (L) chirality in the older D/L notation based on homology to D and L glyceraldehyde. In the newer R/S system of designating chirality, based on the atomic numbers of atoms near the asymmetric carbon, cysteine (and selenocysteine) have R chirality, because of the presence of sulfur (resp. selenium) as a second neighbor to the asymmetric carbon. The remaining chiral amino acids, having lighter atoms in that position, have S chirality.)


1 Dietary sources 2 Industrial sources 3 Biosynthesis 4 Biological functions

4.1 Precursor to the antioxidant glutathione 4.2 Precursor to iron-sulfur clusters 4.3 Metal ion binding 4.4 Roles in protein structure

5 Applications

5.1 Reducing toxic effects of alcohol 5.2 N-Acetylcysteine

6 Sheep 7 Dietary restrictions 8 See also 9 References 10 External links

Dietary sources[edit] Although classified as a non-essential amino acid, in rare cases, cysteine may be essential for infants, the elderly, and individuals with certain metabolic disease or who suffer from malabsorption syndromes. Cysteine
can usually be synthesized by the human body under normal physiological conditions if a sufficient quantity of methionine is available. Cysteine
is catabolized in the gastrointestinal tract and blood plasma[citation needed]. In contrast, cystine travels safely through the GI tract and blood plasma and is promptly reduced to the two cysteine molecules upon cell entry.[citation needed] Cysteine
is found in most high-protein foods, including:

Animal sources: meat (including pork and poultry), eggs, dairy;[6] Plant
sources: red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, brussels sprout, oats, wheat germ, sprouted lentils.[7][unreliable source?]

Like other amino acids, cysteine has an amphoteric character.

(R)- Cysteine
(left) and (S)- Cysteine
(right) in zwitterionic form at neutral pH

Industrial sources[edit] The majority of L-cysteine is obtained industrially by hydrolysis of animal materials, such as poultry feathers or hog hair. Despite widespread belief otherwise, there is little evidence that human hair is used as a source material and its use is explicitly banned in the European Union.[8] Synthetically produced L-cysteine, compliant with Jewish kosher and Muslim halal laws, is also available, albeit at a higher price.[9] The synthetic route involves fermentation using a mutant of E. coli. Degussa
introduced a route from substituted thiazolines.[10] Following this technology, L-cysteine is produced by the hydrolysis of racemic 2-amino-Δ2-thiazoline-4-carboxylic acid using Pseudomonas thiazolinophilum.[11] Biosynthesis[edit]

synthesis. Cystathionine beta synthase
Cystathionine beta synthase
catalyzes the upper reaction and cystathionine gamma-lyase catalyzes the lower reaction.

In animals, biosynthesis begins with the amino acid serine. The sulfur is derived from methionine, which is converted to homocysteine through the intermediate S-adenosylmethionine. Cystathionine
beta-synthase then combines homocysteine and serine to form the asymmetrical thioether cystathionine. The enzyme cystathionine gamma-lyase converts the cystathionine into cysteine and alpha-ketobutyrate. In plants and bacteria, cysteine biosynthesis also starts from serine, which is converted to O-acetylserine by the enzyme serine transacetylase. The enzyme O-acetylserine (thiol)-lyase, using sulfide sources, converts this ester into cysteine, releasing acetate.[12] Biological functions[edit] The cysteine sulfhydryl group is nucleophilic and easily oxidized. The reactivity is enhanced when the thiol is ionized, and cysteine residues in proteins have pKa values close to neutrality, so are often in their reactive thiolate form in the cell.[13] Because of its high reactivity, the sulfhydryl group of cysteine has numerous biological functions. Precursor to the antioxidant glutathione[edit] Due to the ability of thiols to undergo redox reactions, cysteine has antioxidant properties. Cysteine's antioxidant properties are typically expressed in the tripeptide glutathione, which occurs in humans as well as other organisms. The systemic availability of oral glutathione (GSH) is negligible; so it must be biosynthesized from its constituent amino acids, cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid. Glutamic acid and glycine are readily available in most Western diets, but the availability of cysteine can be the limiting substrate.[citation needed] Precursor to iron-sulfur clusters[edit] Cysteine
is an important source of sulfide in human metabolism. The sulfide in iron-sulfur clusters and in nitrogenase is extracted from cysteine, which is converted to alanine in the process.[14] Metal ion binding[edit] Beyond the iron-sulfur proteins, many other metal cofactors in enzymes are bound to the thiolate substituent of cysteinyl residues. Examples include zinc in zinc fingers and alcohol dehydrogenase, copper in the blue copper proteins, iron in cytochrome P450 and nickel in the [NiFe]-hydrogenases.[15] The sulfhydryl group also has a high affinity for heavy metals, so that proteins containing cysteine, such as metallothionein, will bind metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium tightly.[16] Roles in protein structure[edit] In the translation of messenger RNA molecules to produce polypeptides, cysteine is coded for by the UGU and UGC codons. Cysteine
has traditionally been considered to be a hydrophilic amino acid, based largely on the chemical parallel between its sulfhydryl group and the hydroxyl groups in the side-chains of other polar amino acids. However, the cysteine side chain has been shown to stabilize hydrophobic interactions in micelles to a greater degree than the side chain in the non-polar amino acid glycine and the polar amino acid serine.[17] In a statistical analysis of the frequency with which amino acids appear in different chemical environments in the structures of proteins, free cysteine residues were found to associate with hydrophobic regions of proteins. Their hydrophobic tendency was equivalent to that of known non-polar amino acids such as methionine and tyrosine (tyrosine is polar aromatic but also hydrophobic[18]), those of which were much greater than that of known polar amino acids such as serine and threonine.[19] Hydrophobicity scales, which rank amino acids from most hydrophobic to most hydrophilic, consistently place cysteine towards the hydrophobic end of the spectrum, even when they are based on methods that are not influenced by the tendency of cysteines to form disulfide bonds in proteins. Therefore, cysteine is now often grouped among the hydrophobic amino acids,[20][21] though it is sometimes also classified as slightly polar,[22] or polar.[5] While free cysteine residues do occur in proteins, most are covalently bonded to other cysteine residues to form disulfide bonds. Disulfide bonds play an important role in the folding and stability of some proteins, usually proteins secreted to the extracellular medium.[23] Since most cellular compartments are reducing environments, disulfide bonds are generally unstable in the cytosol with some exceptions as noted below.

Figure 2: Cystine
(shown here in its neutral form), two cysteines bound together by a disulfide bond.

Disulfide bonds in proteins are formed by oxidation of the sulfhydryl group of cysteine residues. The other sulfur-containing amino acid, methionine, cannot form disulfide bonds. More aggressive oxidants convert cysteine to the corresponding sulfinic acid and sulfonic acid. Cysteine
residues play a valuable role by crosslinking proteins, which increases the rigidity of proteins and also functions to confer proteolytic resistance (since protein export is a costly process, minimizing its necessity is advantageous). Inside the cell, disulfide bridges between cysteine residues within a polypeptide support the protein's tertiary structure. Insulin
is an example of a protein with cystine crosslinking, wherein two separate peptide chains are connected by a pair of disulfide bonds. Protein
disulfide isomerases catalyze the proper formation of disulfide bonds; the cell transfers dehydroascorbic acid to the endoplasmic reticulum, which oxidises the environment. In this environment, cysteines are, in general, oxidized to cystine and are no longer functional as a nucleophiles. Aside from its oxidation to cystine, cysteine participates in numerous posttranslational modifications. The nucleophilic sulfhydryl group allows cysteine to conjugate to other groups, e.g., in prenylation. Ubiquitin
ligases transfer ubiquitin to its pendant, proteins, and caspases, which engage in proteolysis in the apoptotic cycle. Inteins often function with the help of a catalytic cysteine. These roles are typically limited to the intracellular milieu, where the environment is reducing, and cysteine is not oxidized to cystine. Applications[edit] Cysteine, mainly the L-enantiomer, is a precursor in the food, pharmaceutical and personal-care industries. One of the largest applications is the production of flavors. For example, the reaction of cysteine with sugars in a Maillard reaction
Maillard reaction
yields meat flavors.[24] L- Cysteine
is also used as a processing aid for baking.[25] In the field of personal care, cysteine is used for permanent wave applications, predominantly in Asia. Again, the cysteine is used for breaking up the disulfide bonds in the hair's keratin. Cysteine
is a very popular target for site-directed labeling experiments to investigate biomolecular structure and dynamics. Maleimides will selectively attach to cysteine using a covalent Michael addition. Site-directed spin labeling
Site-directed spin labeling
for EPR or paramagnetic relaxation enhanced NMR also uses cysteine extensively. In a 1994 report released by five top cigarette companies, cysteine is one of the 599 additives to cigarettes. Like most cigarette additives, however, its use or purpose is unknown.[26] Its inclusion in cigarettes could offer two benefits: acting as an expectorant, since smoking increases mucus production in the lungs; or increasing the beneficial antioxidant glutathione (which is diminished in smokers). Reducing toxic effects of alcohol[edit] Cysteine
has been proposed as a preventative or antidote for some of the negative effects of alcohol, including liver damage and hangover. It counteracts the poisonous effects of acetaldehyde. Cysteine supports the next step in metabolism, which turns acetaldehyde into the relatively harmless acetic acid. In a rat study, test animals received an LD50 dose of acetaldehyde. Those that received cysteine had an 80% survival rate; when both cysteine and thiamine were administered, all animals survived.[27] No direct evidence indicates its effectiveness in humans who consume alcohol at low levels. N-Acetylcysteine[edit] N-Acetyl-L-cysteine is a derivative of cysteine wherein an acetyl group is attached to the nitrogen atom. This compound is sold as a dietary supplement, and used as an antidote in cases of acetaminophen overdose.[28] Sheep[edit] Cysteine
is required by sheep to produce wool: It is an essential amino acid that must be taken in from their feed. As a consequence, during drought conditions, sheep produce less wool; however, transgenic sheep that can make their own cysteine have been developed.[29] Dietary restrictions[edit] The animal-originating sources of L-cysteine as a food additive are a point of contention for people following dietary restrictions such as Kosher, Halal, Vegan or Vegetarian.[30] To avoid this problem, L-cysteine can also be sourced from microbial or other synthetic processes. See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cysteine.

Amino acids Cysteine
metabolism Cystinuria Selenocysteine Thiols Sullivan reaction


^ Belitz, H.-D; Grosch, Werner; Schieberle, Peter (2009-02-27). Food Chemistry. ISBN 9783540699330  ^ Weast, Robert C., ed. (1981). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (62nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. C-259. ISBN 0-8493-0462-8. . ^ "Nomenclature and symbolism for amino acids and peptides (IUPAC-IUB Recommendations 1983)", Pure Appl. Chem., 56 (5): 595–624, 1984, doi:10.1351/pac198456050595  ^ https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/cysteine ^ a b "The primary structure of proteins is the amino acid sequence". The Microbial World. University of Wisconsin-Madison Bacteriology Department. Retrieved 16 September 2012.  ^ "Cysteine". University of Maryland Medical Center.  ^ "Lentils, sprouted, raw". bitterpoison.com.  ^ "EU Chemical Requirements".  ^ "Questions About Food Ingredients: What is L-cysteine/cysteine/cystine?". Vegetarian Resource Group.  ^ Martens, Jürgen; Offermanns, Heribert; Scherberich, Paul (1981). "Facile Synthesis of Racemic Cysteine". Angewandte Chemie International Edition in English. 20 (8): 668. doi:10.1002/anie.198106681.  ^ Drauz, Karlheinz; Grayson, Ian; Kleemann, Axel; Krimmer, Hans-Peter; Leuchtenberger, Wolfgang; Weckbecker, Christoph (2007). "Amino Acids". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. doi:10.1002/14356007.a02_057.pub2. ISBN 3-527-30673-0.  ^ Hell R (1997). "Molecular physiology of plant sulfur metabolism". Planta. 202 (2): 138–48. doi:10.1007/s004250050112. PMID 9202491.  ^ Bulaj G, Kortemme T, Goldenberg DP (June 1998). "Ionization-reactivity relationships for cysteine thiols in polypeptides". Biochemistry. 37 (25): 8965–72. doi:10.1021/bi973101r. PMID 9636038.  ^ Lill R, Mühlenhoff U (2006). "Iron-sulfur protein biogenesis in eukaryotes: components and mechanisms". Annu. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 22: 457–86. doi:10.1146/annurev.cellbio.22.010305.104538. PMID 16824008.  ^ Lippard, Stephen J.; Berg, Jeremy M. (1994). Principles of Bioinorganic Chemistry. Mill Valley, CA: University Science Books. ISBN 0-935702-73-3. [page needed] ^ Baker DH, Czarnecki-Maulden GL (June 1987). "Pharmacologic role of cysteine in ameliorating or exacerbating mineral toxicities". J. Nutr. 117 (6): 1003–10. PMID 3298579.  ^ Heitmann P (January 1968). "A model for sulfhydryl groups in proteins. Hydrophobic interactions of the cystein side chain in micelles". Eur. J. Biochem. 3 (3): 346–50. doi:10.1111/j.1432-1033.1968.tb19535.x. PMID 5650851.  ^ "A Review of Amino Acids (tutorial)". Curtin University.  ^ Nagano N, Ota M, Nishikawa K (September 1999). "Strong hydrophobic nature of cysteine residues in proteins". FEBS Lett. 458 (1): 69–71. doi:10.1016/S0014-5793(99)01122-9. PMID 10518936.  ^ Betts, M.J.; R.B. Russell (2003). "Hydrophobic amino acids". Amino Acid Properties and Consequences of Substitutions, In: Bioinformatics for Geneticists. Wiley. Retrieved 2012-09-16.  ^ Gorga, Frank R. (1998–2001). "Introduction to Protein Structure--Non-Polar Amino Acids". Archived from the original on 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2012-09-16.  ^ "Virtual Chembook--Amino Acid Structure". Elmhurst College. Archived from the original on 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2012-09-16.  ^ Sevier CS, Kaiser CA (November 2002). "Formation and transfer of disulphide bonds in living cells". Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 3 (11): 836–47. doi:10.1038/nrm954. PMID 12415301.  ^ Huang, Tzou-Chi; Ho, Chi-Tang. Hui, Y. H.; Nip, Wai-Kit; Rogers, Robert, eds. " Meat
Science and Applications, ch. Flavors of Meat Products". CRC: 71–102. ISBN 978-0-203-90808-2.  ^ "Food Ingredients and Colors". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. November 2004. Archived from the original on 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2009-09-06 .[dead link] ^ Martin, Terry (2009-06-25). "The List of Additives in Cigarettes". about.com. Retrieved 2009-09-06. . ^ Sprince H, Parker CM, Smith GG, Gonzales LJ (April 1974). "Protection against acetaldehyde toxicity in the rat by L-cysteine, thiamin and L-2-methylthiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid". Agents Actions. 4 (2): 125–30. doi:10.1007/BF01966822. PMID 4842541.  ^ Kanter MZ (October 2006). "Comparison of oral and i.v. acetylcysteine in the treatment of acetaminophen poisoning". Am J Health Syst Pharm. 63 (19): 1821–7. doi:10.2146/ajhp060050. PMID 16990628.  ^ Powell BC, Walker SK, Bawden CS, Sivaprasad AV, Rogers GE (1994). " Transgenic sheep and wool growth: possibilities and current status". Reprod. Fertil. Dev. 6 (5): 615–23. doi:10.1071/RD9940615. PMID 7569041.  ^ " Kosher
View of L-Cysteine". kashrut.com. May 2003. 

External links[edit]

MS Spectrum International Kidney Stone Institute http://www.chemie.fu-berlin.de/chemistry/bio/aminoacid/cystein en.html Nagano N, Ota M, Nishikawa K (September 1999). "Strong hydrophobic nature of cysteine residues in proteins". FEBS Lett. 458 (1): 69–71. doi:10.1016/S0014-5793(99)01122-9. PMID 10518936.  952-10-3056-9 Interaction of alcohol and smoking in the pathogenesis of upper digestive tract cancers - possible chemoprevention with cysteine Cystine
Kidney Stones Kosher
View of L-Cysteine

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Cough and cold preparations (R05)


Althea root Antimony pentasulfide Creosote Guaiacolsulfonate Guaifenesin
(+ oxomemazine) Ipecacuanha (Syrup of ipecac) Levoverbenone Potassium iodide Senega Tyloxapol Ammonium Chloride


Acetylcysteine Ambroxol Bromhexine Carbocisteine Domiodol Dornase alfa Eprazinone Erdosteine Letosteine Mannitol Mesna Neltenexine Sobrerol Stepronin Tiopronin

Cough suppressants

alkaloids, opioids, and derivatives

Acetyldihydrocodeine Benzylmorphine Butorphanol Codeine Dextromethorphan Dihydrocodeine Dimemorfan Droxypropine Ethylmorphine Heroin Hydrocodone Hydromorphone Isoaminile Laudanum Levomethadone Levopropoxyphene Methadone Nicocodeine Nicodicodeine Normethadone Noscapine Pholcodine Thebacon Tipepidine


Benzonatate Benproperine Bibenzonium bromide Butamirate Clobutinol Clofedanol Cloperastine Diphenhydramine Dibunate Dimethoxanate Dropropizine Fedrilate Glaucine Levodropropizine Meprotixol Morclofone Nepinalone Oxolamine Oxeladin Pentoxyverine Pipazetate Prenoxdiazine Piperidione Zipeprol

v t e

Antidotes (V03AB)

Nervous system

Nerve agent
Nerve agent
/ Organophosphate poisoning

Atropine# Biperiden Diazepam# Oximes

Obidoxime Pralidoxime

see also: Cholinesterase

Barbiturate overdose

Bemegride Ethamivan

Benzodiazepine overdose

Cyprodenate Flumazenil

GHB overdose

Physostigmine SCH-50911


Diprenorphine Doxapram Nalmefene Nalorphine Naloxone# Naltrexone

Reversal of neuromuscular blockade


Circulatory system

Beta blocker


Digoxin toxicity

Digoxin Immune Fab




Arsenic poisoning

Dimercaprol# Succimer

Cyanide poisoning

4-Dimethylaminophenol Hydroxocobalamin nitrite

Amyl nitrite Sodium nitrite#

Sodium thiosulfate#

Hydrofluoric acid

Calcium gluconate#

/ Ethylene glycol poisoning

Primary alcohols: Ethanol Fomepizole

Paracetamol toxicity (Acetaminophen)

Acetylcysteine# Glutathione Methionine#

Toxic metals (cadmium

lead mercury thallium)

Dimercaprol# Edetates Prussian blue#



Potassium iodide

Methylthioninium chloride# oxidizing agent

Potassium permanganate



Copper sulfate Ipecacuanha

Syrup of ipecac

#WHO-EM ‡Withdrawn from market Clinical trials:

†Phase III §Never to phase III

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The encoded amino acid

General topics

Protein Peptide Genetic code

By properties


Branched-chain amino acids (Valine Isoleucine Leucine) Methionine Alanine Proline Glycine


Phenylalanine Tyrosine Tryptophan Histidine

Polar, uncharged

Asparagine Glutamine Serine Threonine

Positive charge (pKa)

(≈10.8) Arginine
(≈12.5) Histidine

Negative charge (pKa)

Aspartic acid
Aspartic acid
(≈3.9) Glutamic acid
Glutamic acid
(≈4.1) Cysteine
(≈8.3) Tyrosine

Amino acids
Amino acids
types: Encoded (proteins) Essential Non-proteinogenic Ketogenic Glucogenic Imino acids D-amino acids Dehydroamino acids

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E numbers

Colours (E100–199) Preservatives (E200–299) Antioxidants & acidity regulators (E300–399) Thickeners, stabilisers & emulsifiers (E400–499) pH regulators & anticaking agents (E500–599) Flavour enhancers (E600–699) Miscellaneous (E900–999) Additional chemicals (E1100–1599)

Waxes (E900–909) Synthetic glazes (E910–919) Improving agents (E920–929) Packaging gases (E930–949) Sweeteners (E950–969) Foaming agents (E990–999)

L-cysteine (E920) L-cystine (E921) Potassium persulfate
Potassium persulfate
(E922) Ammonium persulfate
Ammonium persulfate
(E923) Potassium bromate
Potassium bromate
(E924) Chlorine
(E925) Chlorine
dioxide (E926) Azodicarbonamide
(E927) Carbamide (E927b) Benzoyl peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide

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Amino acid
Amino acid
metabolism metabolic intermediates



Saccharopine Allysine α-Aminoadipic acid α-Ketoadipate Glutaryl-CoA Glutaconyl-CoA Crotonyl-CoA β-Hydroxybutyryl-CoA


β-Hydroxy β-methylbutyric acid β-Hydroxy β-methylbutyryl-CoA Isovaleryl-CoA α-Ketoisocaproic acid β-Ketoisocaproic acid β-Ketoisocaproyl-CoA β-Leucine β-Methylcrotonyl-CoA β-Methylglutaconyl-CoA β-Hydroxy β-methylglutaryl-CoA


N'-Formylkynurenine Kynurenine Anthranilic acid 3-Hydroxykynurenine 3-Hydroxyanthranilic acid 2-Amino-3-carboxymuconic semialdehyde 2-Aminomuconic semialdehyde 2-Aminomuconic acid Glutaryl-CoA




3-Phosphoglyceric acid

glycine→creatine: Glycocyamine Phosphocreatine Creatinine

G→glutamate→ α-ketoglutarate


Urocanic acid Imidazol-4-one-5-propionic acid Formiminoglutamic acid Glutamate-1-semialdehyde


1-Pyrroline-5-carboxylic acid


Agmatine Ornithine Citrulline Cadaverine Putrescine


cysteine+glutamate→glutathione: γ-Glutamylcysteine

G→propionyl-CoA→ succinyl-CoA


α-Ketoisovaleric acid Isobutyryl-CoA Methacrylyl-CoA 3-Hydroxyisobutyryl-CoA 3-Hydroxyisobutyric acid 2-Methyl-3-oxopropanoic acid


2,3-Dihydroxy-3-methylpentanoic acid 2-Methylbutyryl-CoA Tiglyl-CoA 2-Methylacetoacetyl-CoA


generation of homocysteine: S-Adenosyl methionine S-Adenosyl-L-homocysteine Homocysteine

conversion to cysteine: Cystathionine alpha-Ketobutyric acid+Cysteine


α-Ketobutyric acid





4-Hydroxyphenylpyruvic acid Homogentisic acid 4-Maleylacetoacetic acid


see urea cycle