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Skeletal formula
Ball-and-stick model
IUPAC name
Other names
2-Amino-3-hydroxybutanoic acid
80-68-2 YesY
72-19-5 (L-isomer) N
ChEBI CHEBI:57926 YesY
ChEMBL ChEMBL291747 YesY
ChemSpider 6051 YesY
DrugBank DB00156 YesY
ECHA InfoCard 100.000.704
EC Number 201-300-6
Jmol 3D model Interactive image
PubChem 6288
UNII 2ZD004190S YesY
Molar mass 119.12 g·mol−1
(H2O, g/dl) 10.6(30°),14.1(52°),19.0(61°)
Acidity (pKa) 2.63 (carboxyl), 10.43 (amino)[1]
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
N verify (what is YesYN ?)
Infobox references

Threonine (abbreviated as Thr or T) encoded by the codons ACU, ACC, ACA, and ACG is an α-amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. It contains an α-amino group (which is in the protonated −NH+
form under biological conditions), an α-carboxylic acid group (which is in the deprotonated −COO form under biological conditions), and an alcohol containing side chain, classifying it as a polar, uncharged(at physiological pH) amino acid. It is essential in humans, meaning the body cannot synthesize it, and must be ingested in our diet. Threonine is synthesized from aspartate in bacteria such as E. coli.[2]

Threonine sidechains are often hydrogen bonded; the commonest small motifs formed are ST turns, ST motifs (often at the beginning of alpha helices) and ST staples (usually at the middle of alpha helices).


The threonine residue is susceptible to numerous posttranslational modifications. The hydroxyl side-chain can undergo O-linked glycosylation. In addition, threonine residues undergo phosphorylation through the action of a threonine kinase. In its phosphorylated form, it can be referred to as phosphothreonine.

It is a precursor of glycine, and can be used as a prodrug to reliably elevate brain glycine levels.


Threonine was discovered as the last of the 20 common proteinogenic amino acids in 1935s by William Cumming Rose, collaborating with Curtis Meyer and William Rose. The amino acid was named threonine because it was similar in structure to threose, a four-carbon monosaccharide or carbohydrate with molecular formula C4H8O4[3]

L-Threonin - L-Threonine.svg D-Threonine.svg
L-Threonine (2S,3R) and D-Threonine (2R,3S)
L-allo-Threonine.svg D-allo-Threonine.svg
L-allo-Threonine (2S,3S) and D-allo-Threonine (2R,3R)

Threonine is one of two proteinogenic amino acids with two chiral centers. Threonine can exist in four possible stereoisomers with the following configurations: (2S,3R), (2R,3S), (2S,3S) and (2R,3R). However, the name L-threonine is used for one single diastereomer, (2S,3R)-2-amino-3-hydroxybutanoic acid. The second stereoisomer (2S,3S), which is rarely present in nature, is called L-allo-threonine. The two stereoisomers (2R,3S)- and (2R,3R)-2-amino-3-hydroxybutanoic acid are only of minor importance.[citation needed]


As an essential amino acid, threonine is not synthesized in humans, hence we must ingest threonine in the form of threonine-containing proteins. In plants and microorganisms, threonine is synthesized from aspartic acid via α-aspartyl-semialdehyde and homoserine. Homoserine undergoes O-phosphorylation; this phosphate ester undergoes hydrolysis concomitant with relocation of the OH group.[4] Enzymes involved in a typical biosynthesis of threonine include:

  1. aspartokinase
  2. β-aspartate semialdehyde dehydrogenase
  3. homoserine dehydrogenase
  4. homoserine kinase
  5. threonine synthase.
Threonine biosynthesis


Threonine is metabolized in two ways:


Foods high in threonine include cottage cheese, poultry, fish, meat, lentils, Black turtle bean[5] and Sesame seeds.[6]

Racemic threonine can be prepared from crotonic acid by alpha-functionalization using mercury(II) acetate.[7]


  1. ^ Dawson, R.M.C., et al., Data for Biochemical Research, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1959.
  2. ^ Raïs, Badr; Chassagnole, Christophe; Lettelier, Thierry; Fell, David; Mazat, Jean-Pierre (2001). "Threonine synthesis from aspartate in Escherichia coli cell-free extracts: pathway dynamics" (PDF). J Biochem. PMC 1221853free to read. PMID 11368769. 
  3. ^ Meyer, Curtis (20 July 1936). "The Spatial Configuation of Alpha-Amino-Beta-Hydroxy-n-Butyric Acid" (PDF). Journal of Biological Chemistry. 115 (3). 
  4. ^ Lehninger, Albert L.; Nelson, David L.; Cox, Michael M. (2000), Principles of Biochemistry (3rd ed.), New York: W. H. Freeman, ISBN 1-57259-153-6 .
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Carter, Herbert E.; West, Harold D. (1940). "dl-Threonine". Org. Synth. 20: 101. ; Coll. Vol., 3, p. 813 .

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