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Glycine is one of the 20 amino acids. It's three letter code is Gly, and it's single letter code is G. It is the simplest and smallest amino acid, with a hydrogen atom as a side chain - this means glycine is the only amino acid which does not have a chiral carbon atom[1], so it does not form stereoisomers therefore will not have L or D configurations.

Glycine has a function outside of the cell. It plays a vital role in the central nervous system as is acts as a neurotransmitter in chemical synapses[2].

Glycine has two hydrogens attached to the alpha carbon and is found in flexible areas of proteins due to its short side chain[3][4]. Glycine is too flexible it might distort the alpha helix[5].

History and etymology

Glycine was discovered in 1820 by Henri Braconnot when he hydrolyzed gelatin by boiling it with sulfuric acid[6]. He originally called it "sugar of gelatin"[7], but a student of Liebig showed that it contained Nitrogen, and Berzelius renamed it "glycine"[8]. The name comes from the Greek word γλυκύς "sweet tasting"[9] (which is also related to the prefixes glyco- and gluco-, as in glycoprotein and glucose). Another early name for glycine was "glycocoll"[10][11].


  1. Priv.-Doz. B. Kirste. (01-23-1998). Glycine. Available: Last accessed 23-11-2010.
  2. Molecular biology of the cell,4th edition, 2002, Bruce Alberts, Alexander Johnson , Julian Lewis, Martin Raff , Keith Roberts and Peter Walter. Page 764
  4. Berg, J. M., Tymoczko, J. L., and Stryer, L. (2002). Biochemistry (5th ed.). New York: W.H. Freeman
  6. R.H.A. Plimmer (1912) [1908]. R.H.A. Plimmer; F.G. Hopkins, eds. The chemical composition of the proteins. Monographs on biochemistry. Part I. Analysis (2nd ed.).
  7. MacKenzie, Colin (1822). One Thousand Experiments in Chemistry: With Illustrations of Natural Phenomena; and Practical Observations on the Manufacturing and Chemical Processes at Present Pursued in the Successful Cultivation of the Useful Arts . Sir R. Phillips and Company.
  8. Nye, Mary Jo (1999). Before Big Science: The Pursuit of Modern Chemistry and Physics, 1800-1940. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674063822.
  9. "glycine". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 2015-12-06.
  10. Ihde, Aaron J. (1970). The Development of Modern Chemistry. Courier Corporation. ISBN 9780486642352.
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