Pyroglutamic acid (also known as PCA, 5-oxoproline, pidolic acid, or pyroglutamate for its basic form) is an uncommon amino acid derivative in which the free amino group of glutamic acid or glutaminecyclizes to form a lactam. It is a metabolite in the glutathione cycle that is converted to glutamate by 5-oxoprolinase. Pyroglutamate is found in many proteins including bacteriorhodopsin. N-terminal glutamic acid and glutamine residues can spontaneously cyclize to become pyroglutamate. This is one of several forms of blocked N-terminals which present a problem for N-terminal sequencing using Edman chemistry, which requires a free primary amino group not present in pyroglutamic acid. The enzyme pyroglutamate aminopeptidase can restore a free N-terminus by cleaving off the pyroglutamate residue.
Pyroglutamic acid, also known as pidolic acid, exists as two distinct enantiomers:
^Podell, David N.; Abraham, George N. (1978), "A technique for the removal of pyroglutamic acid from the amino terminus of proteins using calf liver pyroglutamate amino peptidase", Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun.81 (1): 176–85, doi:10.1016/0006-291X(78)91646-7, PMID26343.