Armotaic Amino Acids

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Aromatic Amino Acids(AAAs) are amino acids that have an aromatic ring in their structure, such as benzene.

Amongst the 20 amino acids that commonly occur in proteins, the AAAs are:

Due to the presence of the aromatic rings, these amino acids have larger structures compared to other amino acids in the common 20. They also have a hydrophobic nature and are often found in the core of the protein structure. This is because they are large, so have strength and stability whereas the ends of the protein are flexible because they have smaller more flexible amino acids like Glycine.


These amino acids are not naturally synthesised by the body but are essential for metabolic processes, like the involvement of Phenylalanine and Tyrosine in cell signalling[1] and Tryptophan acting as a precursor[2] to other metabolites. So they need to be taken into the body via the diet. However, having excess amounts of these AAAs might also be bad, because they can cause diseases like Phenylketonuria[3]. This is where the body is unable to breakdown the excess amounts of Phenylalanine in the body[4].

Apart from in the body, AAAs are also used for spectrophotometry, because they absorb wavelengths of light around the UV-visible light region.


  1. Greene W. Aromatic amino acids: Phenylalanine; Tyrosine; Tryptophan.[cited 6/12/17]. Available from
  2. Fernstorm J D, Fernstorm M H .Tyrosine, Phenylalanine and Catecholamine synthesis and function in the brain. JN The journal of nutrition.2007; 137:15395-15475
  3. National human genome research institute. Learning about Phenylketonuria (PKU).2014.[cite 6/12/17]. Available
  4. U.S. Library of genetic medicine. Phenylketonuria. 2017.[cited 06/12/2017]. Available from
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