The tryptophan molecule in 3-D

The tryptophan molecule - rotatable in 3 dimensions

3 letter code:     trp        1 letter code:    W
Tryptophan is an aromatic amino acid.

Like all amino acids, it has an amino group (-NH2) - blue with 2 white balls - at one end, and a carboxylic acid group (-COOH) - grey, connected to red, and red and white - at the other end. Between these is the α- (alpha) carbon to which the 'R' group (and a single -H atom) is attached.

In tryptophan, the 'R' group is rather bulky: a methyl group attached to two joined rings (indole); one of which is a benzene ring.

Other information

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found naturally in many foods, and has been available in health food stores as a dietary supplement. However it has been implicated in health scares, possibly due to contamination, so it is no longer available in many countries.

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