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Concept: Peptide synthesis


Controversy exists about the maximum amount of protein that can be utilized for lean tissue-building purposes in a single meal for those involved in regimented resistance training. It has been proposed that muscle protein synthesis is maximized in young adults with an intake of ~ 20-25 g of a high-quality protein; anything above this amount is believed to be oxidized for energy or transaminated to form urea and other organic acids. However, these findings are specific to the provision of fast-digesting proteins without the addition of other macronutrients. Consumption of slower-acting protein sources, particularly when consumed in combination with other macronutrients, would delay absorption and thus conceivably enhance the utilization of the constituent amino acids. The purpose of this paper was twofold: 1) to objectively review the literature in an effort to determine an upper anabolic threshold for per-meal protein intake; 2) draw relevant conclusions based on the current data so as to elucidate guidelines for per-meal daily protein distribution to optimize lean tissue accretion. Both acute and long-term studies on the topic were evaluated and their findings placed into context with respect to per-meal utilization of protein and the associated implications to distribution of protein feedings across the course of a day. The preponderance of data indicate that while consumption of higher protein doses (> 20 g) results in greater AA oxidation, this is not the fate for all the additional ingested AAs as some are utilized for tissue-building purposes. Based on the current evidence, we conclude that to maximize anabolism one should consume protein at a target intake of 0.4 g/kg/meal across a minimum of four meals in order to reach aminimumof 1.6 g/kg/day. Using the upper daily intake of 2.2 g/kg/day reported in the literature spread out over the same four meals would necessitate a maximum of 0.55 g/kg/meal.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Acid, Metabolism, Nutrition, Nitrogen, Peptide synthesis, Maxima and minima


The currently accepted amount of protein required to achieve maximal stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS) following resistance exercise is 20-25 g. However, the influence of lean body mass (LBM) on the response of MPS to protein ingestion is unclear. Our aim was to assess the influence of LBM, both total and the amount activated during exercise, on the maximal response of MPS to ingestion of 20 or 40 g of whey protein following a bout of whole-body resistance exercise. Resistance-trained males were assigned to a group with lower LBM (≤65 kg; LLBM n = 15) or higher LBM (≥70 kg; HLBM n = 15) and participated in two trials in random order. MPS was measured with the infusion of (13)C6-phenylalanine tracer and collection of muscle biopsies following ingestion of either 20 or 40 g protein during recovery from a single bout of whole-body resistance exercise. A similar response of MPS during exercise recovery was observed between LBM groups following protein ingestion (20 g - LLBM: 0.048 ± 0.018%·h(-1); HLBM: 0.051 ± 0.014%·h(-1); 40 g - LLBM: 0.059 ± 0.021%·h(-1); HLBM: 0.059 ± 0.012%·h(-1)). Overall (groups combined), MPS was stimulated to a greater extent following ingestion of 40 g (0.059 ± 0.020%·h(-1)) compared with 20 g (0.049 ± 0.020%·h(-1); P = 0.005) of protein. Our data indicate that ingestion of 40 g whey protein following whole-body resistance exercise stimulates a greater MPS response than 20 g in young resistance-trained men. However, with the current doses, the total amount of LBM does not seem to influence the response.

Concepts: Metabolism, Muscle, Physical exercise, Exercise, Actin, Muscle contraction, Peptide synthesis, Muscle biopsy


Protein ingestion following resistance-type exercise stimulates muscle protein synthesis rates, and enhances the skeletal muscle adaptive response to prolonged resistance-type exercise training. As the adaptive response to a single bout of resistance exercise extends well beyond the first couple of hours of post-exercise recovery, recent studies have begun to investigate the impact of the timing and distribution of protein ingestion during more prolonged recovery periods. Recent work has shown that overnight muscle protein synthesis rates are restricted by the level of amino acid availability. Protein ingested prior to sleep is effectively digested and absorbed, and thereby stimulates muscle protein synthesis rates during overnight recovery. When applied during a prolonged period of resistance-type exercise training, protein supplementation prior to sleep can further augment gains in muscle mass and strength. Recent studies investigating the impact of pre-sleep protein ingestion suggest that at least 40 g of protein is required to display a robust increase in muscle protein synthesis rates throughout overnight sleep. Furthermore, prior exercise allows more of the pre-sleep protein-derived amino acids to be utilized for de novo muscle protein synthesis during sleep. In short, pre-sleep protein ingestion represents an effective dietary strategy to improve overnight muscle protein synthesis, thereby improving the skeletal muscle adaptive response to exercise training.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Acid, Metabolism, Ribosome, Muscle, Myosin, Peptide synthesis


Several recent publications indicate that the maximum stimulation of muscle protein fractional synthetic rate occurs with intake of 20-30 g protein. This finding has led to the concept that there is a maximal anabolic response to protein intake with a meal, and that the normal amount of protein eaten with dinner will generally exceed the maximally-effective intake of protein. However, protein breakdown has not been taken into account when evaluating the anabolic response to protein intake. Protein anabolism occurs only when protein synthesis exceeds protein breakdown. Higher protein intakes when protein synthesis is maximized is characterized by suppressed protein breakdown and via that mechanism leads to a greater anabolic response. This explains why when net protein synthesis is measured, the relationship between amino acid availability and net gain remains linear, without any apparent plateau of effect at higher levels of availability. We conclude that there is no practical upper limit to the anabolic response to protein or amino acid intake in the context of a meal.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Acid, Amine, Metabolism, Ribosome, Peptide synthesis, Limit of a function


Our understanding of translation underpins our capacity to engineer living systems. The canonical start codon (AUG) and a few near-cognates (GUG, UUG) are considered as the ‘start codons’ for translation initiation in Escherichia coli. Translation is typically not thought to initiate from the 61 remaining codons. Here, we quantified translation initiation of green fluorescent protein and nanoluciferase in E. coli from all 64 triplet codons and across a range of DNA copy number. We detected initiation of protein synthesis above measurement background for 47 codons. Translation from non-canonical start codons ranged from 0.007 to 3% relative to translation from AUG. Translation from 17 non-AUG codons exceeded the highest reported rates of non-cognate codon recognition. Translation initiation from non-canonical start codons may contribute to the synthesis of peptides in both natural and synthetic biological systems.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Amino acid, Escherichia coli, Protein biosynthesis, Genetic code, Peptide synthesis



The ribosome builds proteins by joining together amino acids in an order determined by messenger RNA. Here, we report on the design, synthesis, and operation of an artificial small-molecule machine that travels along a molecular strand, picking up amino acids that block its path, to synthesize a peptide in a sequence-specific manner. The chemical structure is based on a rotaxane, a molecular ring threaded onto a molecular axle. The ring carries a thiolate group that iteratively removes amino acids in order from the strand and transfers them to a peptide-elongation site through native chemical ligation. The synthesis is demonstrated with ~10(18) molecular machines acting in parallel; this process generates milligram quantities of a peptide with a single sequence confirmed by tandem mass spectrometry.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Mass spectrometry, RNA, Ribosome, Messenger RNA, Peptide, Peptide synthesis


The prebiotic replication of information-coding molecules is a central problem concerning life’s origins. Here, we report that amyloids composed of short peptides can direct the sequence-selective, regioselective and stereoselective condensation of amino acids. The addition of activated DL-arginine and DL-phenylalanine to the peptide RFRFR-NH2 in the presence of the complementary template peptide Ac-FEFEFEFE-NH2 yields the isotactic product FRFRFRFR-NH2, 1 of 64 possible triple addition products, under conditions in which the absence of template yields only single and double additions of mixed stereochemistry. The templating mechanism appears to be general in that a different amyloid formed by (Orn)V(Orn)V(Orn)V(Orn)V-NH2 and Ac-VDVDVDVDV-NH2 is regioselective and stereoselective for N-terminal, L-amino-acid addition while the ornithine-valine peptide alone yields predominantly sidechain condensation products with little stereoselectivity. Furthermore, the templating reaction is stable over a wide range of pH (5.6-8.6), salt concentration (0-4 M NaCl), and temperature (25-90 °C), making the amyloid an attractive model for a prebiotic peptide replicating system.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Acid, Peptide bond, Stereochemistry, Peptide, Amyloid, Peptide synthesis


Background: Though it is well appreciated that insulin plays an important role in regulating muscle protein metabolism, there is much discrepancy in the literature on the capacity of exogenous insulin administration to increase muscle protein synthesis rates in vivo in humans. Objective: To assess whether exogenous insulin administration increases muscle protein synthesis rates in young and older adults. Design: A systematic review of clinical trials was performed and the presence or absence of an increase in muscle protein synthesis rate was reported for each individual study arm. In a stepwise manner, multiple models where constructed that excluded study arms based on the following conditions: model 1) concurrent hyperaminoamino-acidemia, model 2) insulin-induced hypoaminoacidemia, model 3) supraphysiological insulin concentrations, and model 4) older, more insulin resistant, subjects. Conclusions: From the presented data in the current systematic review, we conclude that 1) exogenous insulin and amino acid administration effectively increase muscle protein synthesis, however this effect is attributed to the hyperaminoacidemia, 2) exogenous insulin administrated systemically induces hypoaminoacidemia which obviates any insulin-stimulatory effect on muscle protein synthesis, 3) exogenous insulin resulting in supraphysiological insulin levels exceeding 50,000 pmol/L may effectively augment muscle protein synthesis, 4) exogenous insulin may have a diminished effect on muscle protein synthesis in older adults due to age related anabolic resistance, and 5) exogenous insulin administrated systemically does not increase muscle protein synthesis in healthy, young adults.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Metabolism, Insulin, Glucose, Insulin resistance, Glycogen, Peptide synthesis


TldD and TldE proteins are involved in the biosynthesis of microcin B17 (MccB17), an Escherichia coli thiazole/oxazole-modified peptide toxin targeting DNA gyrase. Using a combination of biochemical and crystallographic methods we show that E. coli TldD and TldE interact to form a heterodimeric metalloprotease. TldD/E cleaves the N-terminal leader sequence from the modified MccB17 precursor peptide, to yield mature antibiotic, while it has no effect on the unmodified peptide. Both proteins are essential for the activity; however, only the TldD subunit forms a novel metal-containing active site within the hollow core of the heterodimer. Peptide substrates are bound in a sequence-independent manner through β sheet interactions with TldD and are likely cleaved via a thermolysin-type mechanism. We suggest that TldD/E acts as a “molecular pencil sharpener”: unfolded polypeptides are fed through a narrow channel into the active site and processively truncated through the cleavage of short peptides from the N-terminal end.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Protein structure, Amino acid, Enzyme, Escherichia coli, Peptide, Peptide synthesis