Human the organism. You could say that a

Human bodies contain hundreds of proteins that perform specific functions. In this lesson, we’ll examine the protein elastin to understand how it functions in our bodies.

Elastin Defined

Proteins are crucial to all living organisms. They’re made of a sequence of amino acids that have been folded into a particular shape.

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The shape of a protein determines its function within the organism. You could say that a protein fits into a space like a key into a lock.The protein elastin is found in connective tissues throughout the body. It is notably found in the extracellular matrix of the skin as well as the internal organs of the body. You may have noticed that the name elastin sounds much like ‘elastic.

‘ This is no coincidence. The elastin protein is flexible and gives many tissues their elasticity.

Function

If you pinch the skin on your arm and then release it, you’ll notice that it snaps back into place. Your skin is able to do this because it contains elastin.

This is a very important quality – just imagine the trouble and difficulty you would have if your skin could not snap back into its rightful place.Elastin is also a crucial component in the lining of veins and arteries. When you go to the doctor, one of the first things they probably do is check your blood pressure. Changes in our bodies cause our blood pressure to increase and decrease throughout the day.

It is important for our veins and arteries to be able to adjust to the changes in pressure. The elasticity of the elastin protein allows for this adjustment.Organs such as our lungs greatly depend on elastin as well.

With each breath, your lungs must expand and contract. The elastin found in the tissues of the lungs allows them to return to their original shape after each breath. If our lungs were not able to do this, we would not be able to survive.It is also normal for us to gain and lose weight throughout our lives. Elastin is crucial in allowing our skin to go back into place after weight loss to some extent and to allow flexing of the skin as we exercise. As we age, the amount of elastin produced by our bodies decreases, resulting in wrinkling of the skin and sagging in some places.

Many cosmetic companies have taken advantage of the science behind elastin in our bodies and offer creams and other products that are advertised to contain elastin to reduce wrinkling.

Lesson Summary

Proteins are crucial for everything that we do. One prominent protein in the human body is elastin. Elastin is a flexible protein that allows our skin, as well as all organs surrounded by connective tissue, to flex back into their original shape. This elasticity is crucial for many life processes, including respiration and movement.

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