Amino acids are important molecules in Nature by serving as metabolic intermediates or as building units for proteins synthesis. All common amino acids, except for glycine, exhibit a chiral center resulting in the occurrence of L- and D-amino acids. In the past, D-amino acids (D-AA) have been considered unnatural amino acids that only exist in microorganisms and plants: the free D-isomers found in higher animals were assumed to be essentially by-products of dietary consumption. Taking advantage of the development of more sensitive analytical techniques, biochemists recently demonstrated the presence of D-AA in several molecules as well as in mammalian tissues and fluids. D-AAs play important roles in a number of physiological functions (from neurotransmission to biofilm formation, from endocrinology to antibiotics) and are also related to main human pathologies.
The number of researchers interested in D-AAs, willing to exchange skills, techniques and scientific advances, has rapidly progressed: we are just at the beginning to disclose the importance of this class of biomolecules.
Prof. Loredano Pollegioni
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