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L-Threonin - L-Threonine.svg
IUPAC name
Other names
2-Amino-3-hydroxybutanoic acid
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.000.704
EC Number
  • 201-300-6
PubChem CID
Molar mass 119.120 g·mol−1
(H2O, g/dl) 10.6(30°),14.1(52°),19.0(61°)
Acidity (pKa)2.63 (carboxyl), 10.43 (amino) [1]
Supplementary data page
Refractive index (n),
Dielectric constantr), etc.
Phase behaviour
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references

Threonine (symbol Thr or T) [2] is an amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. It contains an α-amino group (which is in the protonated −NH+
form under biological conditions), a carboxyl group (which is in the deprotonated −COO form under biological conditions), and a side chain containing a hydroxyl group, making it a polar, uncharged amino acid. It is essential in humans, meaning the body cannot synthesize it: it must be obtained from the diet. Threonine is synthesized from aspartate in bacteria such as E. coli. [3] It is encoded by all the codons starting AC (ACU, ACC, ACA, and ACG).


Threonine sidechains are often hydrogen bonded; the most common small motifs formed are based on interactions with serine: ST turns, ST motifs (often at the beginning of alpha helices) and ST staples (usually at the middle of alpha helices).


The threonine residue is susceptible to numerous posttranslational modifications. The hydroxyl side-chain can undergo O-linked glycosylation. In addition, threonine residues undergo phosphorylation through the action of a threonine kinase. In its phosphorylated form, it can be referred to as phosphothreonine. Phosphothreonine has three potential coordination sites (carboxyl, amine and phosphate group) and determination of the mode of coordination between phosphorylated ligands and metal ions occurring in an organism is important to explain the function of the phosphothreonine in biological processes. [4]

It is a precursor of glycine, and can be used as a prodrug to reliably elevate brain glycine levels.


Threonine was the last of the 20 common proteinogenic amino acids to be discovered. It was discovered in 1936 by William Cumming Rose [5] , collaborating with Curtis Meyer. The amino acid was named threonine because it was similar in structure to threonic acid, a four-carbon monosaccharide with molecular formula C4H8O5 [6]

L-Threonin - L-Threonine.svg   D-Threonine.svg
L-Threonine (2S,3R) and D-Threonine (2R,3S)
L-allo-Threonine.svg   D-allo-Threonine.svg
L-Allothreonine (2S,3S) and D-Allothreonine (2R,3R)

Threonine is one of two proteinogenic amino acids with two chiral centers, the other being isoleucine. Threonine can exist in four possible stereoisomers with the following configurations: (2S,3R), (2R,3S), (2S,3S) and (2R,3R). However, the name L-threonine is used for one single diastereomer, (2S,3R)-2-amino-3-hydroxybutanoic acid. The second stereoisomer (2S,3S), which is rarely present in nature, is called L-allothreonine. [7] The two stereoisomers (2R,3S)- and (2R,3R)-2-amino-3-hydroxybutanoic acid are only of minor importance. [ citation needed ]


As an essential amino acid, threonine is not synthesized in humans, and needs to be present in proteins in the diet. Adult humans require about 20 mg/kg body weight/day. [8] In plants and microorganisms, threonine is synthesized from aspartic acid via α-aspartyl-semialdehyde and homoserine. Homoserine undergoes O-phosphorylation; this phosphate ester undergoes hydrolysis concomitant with relocation of the OH group. [9] Enzymes involved in a typical biosynthesis of threonine include:

  1. aspartokinase
  2. β-aspartate semialdehyde dehydrogenase
  3. homoserine dehydrogenase
  4. homoserine kinase
  5. threonine synthase.
Threonine biosynthesis Threonine biosynthesis.svg
Threonine biosynthesis


Threonine is metabolized in at least three ways:


Foods high in threonine include cottage cheese, poultry, fish, meat, lentils, black turtle bean [13] and sesame seeds. [14]

Racemic threonine can be prepared from crotonic acid by alpha-functionalization using mercury(II) acetate. [15]

Related Research Articles

Amino acid Organic compounds containing amine and carboxylic groups

Amino acids are organic compounds that contain amine (–NH2) and carboxyl (–COOH) functional groups, along with a side chain (R group) specific to each amino acid. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and nitrogen (N), although other elements are found in the side chains of certain amino acids. About 500 naturally occurring amino acids are known (though only 20 appear in the genetic code) and can be classified in many ways. They can be classified according to the core structural functional groups' locations as alpha- (α-), beta- (β-), gamma- (γ-) or delta- (δ-) amino acids; other categories relate to polarity, pH level, and side chain group type (aliphatic, acyclic, aromatic, containing hydroxyl or sulfur, etc.). In the form of proteins, amino acid residues form the second-largest component (water is the largest) of human muscles and other tissues. Beyond their role as residues in proteins, amino acids participate in a number of processes such as neurotransmitter transport and biosynthesis.

Protein primary structure Linear sequence of amino acids in a peptide or protein

Protein primary structure is the linear sequence of amino acids in a peptide or protein. By convention, the primary structure of a protein is reported starting from the amino-terminal (N) end to the carboxyl-terminal (C) end. Protein biosynthesis is most commonly performed by ribosomes in cells. Peptides can also be synthesized in the laboratory. Protein primary structures can be directly sequenced, or inferred from DNA sequences.

Protein kinase enzyme that adds phosphate groups to other proteins

A protein kinase is a kinase enzyme that modifies other proteins by chemically adding phosphate groups to them (phosphorylation). Phosphorylation usually results in a functional change of the target protein (substrate) by changing enzyme activity, cellular location, or association with other proteins. The human genome contains about 500 protein kinase genes and they constitute about 2% of all human genes. Protein kinases are also found in bacteria and plants. Up to 30% of all human proteins may be modified by kinase activity, and kinases are known to regulate the majority of cellular pathways, especially those involved in signal transduction.

Proline group of stereoisomers

Proline (symbol Pro or P) is an organic acid classed as a proteinogenic amino acid (used in the biosynthesis of proteins), although it does not contain the amino group -NH
but is rather a secondary amine. The secondary amine nitrogen is in the protonated NH2+ form under biological conditions, while the carboxy group is in the deprotonated −COO form. The "side chain" from the α carbon connects to the nitrogen forming a pyrrolidine loop, classifying it as a aliphatic amino acid. It is non-essential in humans, meaning the body can synthesize it from the non-essential amino acid L-glutamate. It is encoded by all the codons starting with CC (CCU, CCC, CCA, and CCG).

Methionine Group of stereoisomers

Methionine is an essential amino acid in humans. As the substrate for other amino acids such as cysteine and taurine, versatile compounds such as SAM-e, and the important antioxidant glutathione, methionine plays a critical role in the metabolism and health of many species, including humans. It is encoded by the codon AUG.

Aspartic acid Amino acid

Aspartic acid (symbol Asp or D; the ionic form is known as aspartate), is an α-amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Like all other amino acids, it contains an amino group and a carboxylic acid. Its α-amino group is in the protonated –NH+
form under physiological conditions, while its α-carboxylic acid group is deprotonated −COO under physiological conditions. Aspartic acid has an acidic side chain (CH2COOH) which reacts with other amino acids, enzymes and proteins in the body. Under physiological conditions (pH 7.4) in proteins the side chain usually occurs as the negatively charged aspartate form, −COO. It is a non-essential amino acid in humans, meaning the body can synthesize it as needed. It is encoded by the codons GAU and GAC.

Serine is an ɑ-amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. It contains an α-amino group, a carboxyl group, and a side chain consisting of a hydroxymethyl group, classifying it as a polar amino acid. It can be synthesized in the human body under normal physiological circumstances, making it a nonessential amino acid. It is encoded by the codons UCU, UCC, UCA, UCG, AGU and AGC.

Coenzyme A coenzyme, notable for its role in the synthesis and oxidation of fatty acids, and the oxidation of pyruvate in the citric acid cycle

Coenzyme A (CoA, SHCoA, CoASH) is a coenzyme, notable for its role in the synthesis and oxidation of fatty acids, and the oxidation of pyruvate in the citric acid cycle. All genomes sequenced to date encode enzymes that use coenzyme A as a substrate, and around 4% of cellular enzymes use it (or a thioester) as a substrate. In humans, CoA biosynthesis requires cysteine, pantothenate (vitamin B5), and adenosine triphosphate (ATP).


Transamination, a chemical reaction that transfers an amino group to a ketoacid to form new amino acids. This pathway is responsible for the deamination of most amino acids. This is one of the major degradation pathways which convert essential amino acids to non-essential amino acids.

Pyridoxal phosphate Active form of vitamin B6

Pyridoxal phosphate (PLP, pyridoxal 5'-phosphate, P5P), the active form of vitamin B6, is a coenzyme in a variety of enzymatic reactions. The Enzyme commission has catalogued more than 140 PLP-dependent activities, corresponding to ~4% of all classified activities. The versatility of PLP arises from its ability to covalently bind the substrate, and then to act as an electrophilic catalyst, thereby stabilizing different types of carbanionic reaction intermediates.

Biosynthesis is a multi-step, enzyme-catalyzed process where substrates are converted into more complex products in living organisms. In biosynthesis, simple compounds are modified, converted into other compounds, or joined together to form macromolecules. This process often consists of metabolic pathways. Some of these biosynthetic pathways are located within a single cellular organelle, while others involve enzymes that are located within multiple cellular organelles. Examples of these biosynthetic pathways include the production of lipid membrane components and nucleotides. Biosynthesis is usually synonymous with anabolism.

Homoserine chemical compound

Homoserine (also called isothreonine) is an α-amino acid with the chemical formula HO2CCH(NH2)CH2CH2OH. l-Homoserine is not one of the common amino acids encoded by DNA. It differs from the proteinogenic amino acid serine by insertion of an additional -CH2- unit into the backbone. Homoserine, or its lactone form, is the product of a cyanogen bromide cleavage of a peptide by degradation of methionine.

Serine/threonine-specific protein kinase group of enzymes that catalyzes the phosphorylation of serine or threonine residues in proteins

A serine/threonine protein kinase is a kinase enzyme that phosphorylates the OH group of serine or threonine. At least 125 of the 500+ human protein kinases are serine/threonine kinases (STK).

Amino acid synthesis biological synthesis of amino acids

Amino acid synthesis is the set of biochemical processes by which the amino acids are produced. The substrates for these processes are various compounds in the organism's diet or growth media. Not all organisms are able to synthesize all amino acids. For example, humans can only synthesize 11 of the 20 standard amino acids, and in time of accelerated growth, histidine can be considered an essential amino acid.

Serine dehydratase

Serine dehydratase or L-serine ammonia lyase (SDH) is in the β-family of pyridoxal phosphate-dependent (PLP) enzymes. SDH is found widely in nature, but its structural and chemical properties vary greatly among species. SDH is found in yeast, bacteria, and the cytoplasm of mammalian hepatocytes. The reaction it catalyzes is the deamination of L-serine to yield pyruvate, with the release of ammonia.

Homoserine dehydrogenase class of enzymes

In enzymology, a homoserine dehydrogenase (EC is an enzyme that catalyzes the chemical reaction

Aspartate-semialdehyde dehydrogenase InterPro Family

In enzymology, an aspartate-semialdehyde dehydrogenase is an enzyme that is very important in the biosynthesis of amino acids in prokaryotes, fungi, and some higher plants. It forms an early branch point in the metabolic pathway forming lysine, methionine, leucine and isoleucine from aspartate. This pathway also produces diaminopimelate which plays an essential role in bacterial cell wall formation. There is particular interest in ASADH as disabling this enzyme proves fatal to the organism giving rise to the possibility of a new class of antibiotics, fungicides, and herbicides aimed at inhibiting it.

In enzymology, a [3-methyl-2-oxobutanoate dehydrogenase (acetyl-transferring)] is an enzyme that catalyzes the chemical reaction

Amino acid kinase protein family

In molecular biology, the amino acid kinase domain is a protein domain. It is found in protein kinases with various specificities, including the aspartate, glutamate and uridylate kinase families. In prokaryotes and plants the synthesis of the essential amino acids lysine and threonine is predominantly regulated by feed-back inhibition of aspartate kinase (AK) and dihydrodipicolinate synthase (DHPS). In Escherichia coli, thrA, metLM, and lysC encode aspartokinase isozymes that show feedback inhibition by threonine, methionine, and lysine, respectively. The lysine-sensitive isoenzyme of aspartate kinase from spinach leaves has a subunit composition of 4 large and 4 small subunits.

Non-proteinogenic amino acids class of chemical compounds

In biochemistry, non-coded or non-proteinogenic amino acids are those not naturally encoded or found in the genetic code of any organism. Despite the use of only 22 amino acids by the translational machinery to assemble proteins, over 140 amino acids are known to occur naturally in proteins and thousands more may occur in nature or be synthesized in the laboratory. Many non-proteinogenic amino acids are noteworthy because they are;


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  4. Jastrzab, Renata (2013). "Studies of new phosphothreonine complexes formed in binary and ternary systems including biogenic amines and copper(II)". Journal of Coordination Chemistry. 66 (1): 98-113. doi:10.1080/00958972.2012.746678
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  9. Lehninger, Albert L.; Nelson, David L.; Cox, Michael M. (2000). Principles of Biochemistry (3rd ed.). New York: W. H. Freeman. ISBN   1-57259-153-6..
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  13. "Error".
  14. "SELF Nutrition Data - Food Facts, Information & Calorie Calculator". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
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