CH2 h

C^=0 formyl H group

Figure 8.6. Formyl methionine.

Example 8.1

The Irritating Formyl Methionine

White blood cells are strongly attracted by any peptide that begins with formyl methionine: they assume an amoeboid shape (Fig. 1.5 on page 5) and begin to crawl toward the source of the peptide. To a white blood cell, the presence of a peptide beginning with formyl methionine means that there is an infection nearby that needs to be fought. This is because the body's own proteins do not contain formyl methionine: only prokaryotes begin protein synthesis with this modified amino acid.

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