Last updated
Skeletal formula of neutral valine
Valine at 7.4 pH.png
Zwitterionic valine
IUPAC name
Other names
2-Amino-3-methylbutanoic acid
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.000.703 OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
EC Number
  • L:200-773-6
PubChem CID
  • InChI=1S/C5H11NO2/c1-3(2)4(6)5(7)8/h3-4H,6H2,1-2H3,(H,7,8)/t4-/m0/s1 Yes check.svgY
  • L:CC(C)[C@@H](C(=O)O)N
  • L Zwitterion:CC(C)[C@@H](C(=O)[O-])[NH3+]
Properties [1]
Molar mass 117.148 g·mol−1
Density 1.316 g/cm3
Melting point 298 °C (568 °F; 571 K) (decomposition)
soluble, 85 g/l [2]
Acidity (pKa)2.32 (carboxyl), 9.62 (amino) [3]
-74.3·10−6 cm3/mol
Supplementary data page
Valine (data page)
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).

Valine (symbol Val or V) [4] is an α-amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. It contains an α-amino group (which is in the protonated −NH3+ form under biological conditions), an α-carboxylic acid group (which is in the deprotonated −COO form under biological conditions), and a side chain isopropyl group, making it a non-polar aliphatic amino acid. It is essential in humans, meaning the body cannot synthesize it: it must be obtained from the diet. Human dietary sources are foods that contain protein, such as meats, dairy products, soy products, beans and legumes. It is encoded by all codons starting with GU (GUU, GUC, GUA, and GUG).


History and etymology

Valine was first isolated from casein in 1901 by Hermann Emil Fischer. [5] The name valine comes from valeric acid, which in turn is named after the plant valerian due to the presence of the acid in the roots of the plant. [6] [7]


According to IUPAC, carbon atoms forming valine are numbered sequentially starting from 1 denoting the carboxyl carbon, whereas 4 and 4' denote the two terminal methyl carbons. [8]


Source and biosynthesis

Valine, like other branched-chain amino acids, is synthesized by plants, but not by animals. [9] It is therefore an essential amino acid in animals, and needs to be present in the diet. Adult humans require about 24 mg/kg body weight daily. [10] It is synthesized in plants and bacteria via several steps starting from pyruvic acid. The initial part of the pathway also leads to leucine. The intermediate α-ketoisovalerate undergoes reductive amination with glutamate. Enzymes involved in this biosynthesis include: [11]

  1. Acetolactate synthase (also known as acetohydroxy acid synthase)
  2. Acetohydroxy acid isomeroreductase
  3. Dihydroxyacid dehydratase
  4. Valine aminotransferase


Like other branched-chain amino acids, the catabolism of valine starts with the removal of the amino group by transamination, giving alpha-ketoisovalerate, an alpha-keto acid, which is converted to isobutyryl-CoA through oxidative decarboxylation by the branched-chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase complex. [12] This is further oxidised and rearranged to succinyl-CoA, which can enter the citric acid cycle.


Racemic valine can be synthesized by bromination of isovaleric acid followed by amination of the α-bromo derivative [13]

HO2CCH2CH(CH3)2 + Br2 → HO2CCHBrCH(CH3)2 + HBr
HO2CCHBrCH(CH3)2 + 2 NH3 → HO2CCH(NH2)CH(CH3)2 + NH4Br

Medical significance

Insulin resistance

Valine, like other branched-chain amino acids, is associated with weight loss and decreased insulin resistance: higher levels of valine are observed in the blood of diabetic mice, rats, and humans. [14] Mice fed a valine diet for one day have improved insulin sensitivity, and feeding of a valine diet for one week significantly decreases blood glucose levels. [15] In diet-induced obese and insulin resistant mice, a diet with decreased levels of valine and the other branched-chain amino acids results in a rapid reversal of the adiposity and an improvement in glucose-level control. [16] The valine catabolite 3-hydroxyisobutyrate promotes insulin sensitivity in mice by stimulating fatty acid uptake into muscle and lipid reduction. [17] In humans, a protein rich diet decreases fasting blood glucose levels. [18]

Hematopoietic stem cells

Dietary valine is essential for hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) self-renewal, as demonstrated by experiments in mice. [19] Dietary valine restriction selectively depletes long-term repopulating HSC in mouse bone marrow. Successful stem cell transplantation was achieved in mice without irradiation after 3 weeks on a valine restricted diet. Long-term survival of the transplanted mice was achieved when valine was returned to the diet gradually over a 2-week period to avoid refeeding syndrome.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tryptophan</span> Chemical compound

Tryptophan is an α-amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Tryptophan contains an α-amino group, an α-carboxylic acid group, and a side chain indole, making it a polar molecule with a non-polar aromatic beta carbon substituent. It is essential in humans, meaning that the body cannot synthesize it and it must be obtained from the diet. Tryptophan is also a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, the hormone melatonin, and vitamin B3. It is encoded by the codon UGG.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Methionine</span> Sulfur-containing amino acid

Methionine is an essential amino acid in humans. As the precursor of 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alanine</span> Α-amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins

Alanine (symbol Ala or A), or α-alanine, is an α-amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. It contains an amine group and a carboxylic acid group, both attached to the central carbon atom which also carries a methyl group side chain. Consequently, its IUPAC systematic name is 2-aminopropanoic acid, and it is classified as a nonpolar, aliphatic α-amino acid. Under biological conditions, it exists in its zwitterionic form with its amine group protonated (as −NH3+) and its carboxyl group deprotonated (as −CO2). It is non-essential to humans as it can be synthesised metabolically and does not need to be present in the diet. It is encoded by all codons starting with GC (GCU, GCC, GCA, and GCG).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Isoleucine</span> Chemical compound

Isoleucine is an α-amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. It contains an α-amino group, an α-carboxylic acid group, and a hydrocarbon side chain with a branch. It is classified as a non-polar, uncharged, branched-chain, aliphatic amino acid. It is essential in humans, meaning the body cannot synthesize it, and must be ingested in our diet. Isoleucine is synthesized from pyruvate employing leucine biosynthesis enzymes in other organisms such as bacteria. It is encoded by the codons AUU, AUC, and AUA.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leucine</span> Chemical compound

Leucine (symbol Leu or L) is an essential amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Leucine is an α-amino acid, meaning it contains an α-amino group (which is in the protonated −NH3+ form under biological conditions), an α-carboxylic acid group (which is in the deprotonated −COO form under biological conditions), and a side chain isobutyl group, making it a non-polar aliphatic amino acid. It is essential in humans, meaning the body cannot synthesize it: it must be obtained from the diet. Human dietary sources are foods that contain protein, such as meats, dairy products, soy products, and beans and other legumes. It is encoded by the codons UUA, UUG, CUU, CUC, CUA, and CUG.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Threonine</span> Amino acid

Threonine is an amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. It contains an α-amino group, a carboxyl group, 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. It is encoded by all the codons starting AC.

Gluconeogenesis (GNG) is a metabolic pathway that results in the generation of glucose from certain non-carbohydrate carbon substrates. It is a ubiquitous process, present in plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms. In vertebrates, gluconeogenesis occurs mainly in the liver and, to a lesser extent, in the cortex of the kidneys. It is one of two primary mechanisms – the other being degradation of glycogen (glycogenolysis) – used by humans and many other animals to maintain blood sugar levels, avoiding low levels (hypoglycemia). In ruminants, because dietary carbohydrates tend to be metabolized by rumen organisms, gluconeogenesis occurs regardless of fasting, low-carbohydrate diets, exercise, etc. In many other animals, the process occurs during periods of fasting, starvation, low-carbohydrate diets, or intense exercise.

A low-protein diet is a diet in which people decrease their intake of protein. A low-protein diet is used as a therapy for inherited metabolic disorders, such as phenylketonuria and homocystinuria, and can also be used to treat kidney or liver disease. Low protein consumption appears to reduce the risk of bone breakage, presumably through changes in calcium homeostasis. Consequently, there is no uniform definition of what constitutes low-protein, because the amount and composition of protein for an individual with phenylketonuria would differ substantially from one with homocystinuria or tyrosinemia.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Branched-chain amino acid</span> Amino acid with a branched carbon chain

A branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) is an amino acid having an aliphatic side-chain with a branch. Among the proteinogenic amino acids, there are three BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Non-proteinogenic BCAAs include 2-aminoisobutyric acid.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Amino acid synthesis</span> The set of biochemical processes by which amino acids are produced

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 synthesize 11 of the 20 standard amino acids.

In biochemistry, fatty acid synthesis is the creation of fatty acids from acetyl-CoA and NADPH through the action of enzymes called fatty acid synthases. This process takes place in the cytoplasm of the cell. Most of the acetyl-CoA which is converted into fatty acids is derived from carbohydrates via the glycolytic pathway. The glycolytic pathway also provides the glycerol with which three fatty acids can combine to form triglycerides, the final product of the lipogenic process. When only two fatty acids combine with glycerol and the third alcohol group is phosphorylated with a group such as phosphatidylcholine, a phospholipid is formed. Phospholipids form the bulk of the lipid bilayers that make up cell membranes and surrounds the organelles within the cells.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Acetolactate synthase</span> Class of enzymes

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ketogenic amino acid</span> Type of amino acid

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Branched-chain amino acid aminotransferase</span> Aminotransferase enzyme

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">FGF21</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

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Norvaline (abbreviated as Nva) is an amino acid with the formula CH3(CH2)2CH(NH2)CO2H. The compound is a structural analog of valeric acid and also an isomer of the more common amino acid valine. Like most other α-amino acids, norvaline is chiral. It is a white, water-soluble solid.


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