The Keio Journal of Medicine
Online ISSN : 1880-1293
Print ISSN : 0022-9717
ISSN-L : 0022-9717
Distinctive Roles of D-Amino Acids in the Homochiral World: Chirality of Amino Acids Modulates Mammalian Physiology and Pathology
Jumpei SasabeMasataka Suzuki
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2018 Volume 68 Issue 1 Pages 1-16


Living organisms enantioselectively employ L-amino acids as the molecular architecture of protein synthesized in the ribosome. Although L-amino acids are dominantly utilized in most biological processes, accumulating evidence points to the distinctive roles of D-amino acids in non-ribosomal physiology. Among the three domains of life, bacteria have the greatest capacity to produce a wide variety of D-amino acids. In contrast, archaea and eukaryotes are thought generally to synthesize only two kinds of D-amino acids: D-serine and D-aspartate. In mammals, D-serine is critical for neurotransmission as an endogenous coagonist of N-methyl D-aspartate receptors. Additionally, D-aspartate is associated with neurogenesis and endocrine systems. Furthermore, recognition of D-amino acids originating in bacteria is linked to systemic and mucosal innate immunity. Among the roles played by D-amino acids in human pathology, the dysfunction of neurotransmission mediated by D-serine is implicated in psychiatric and neurological disorders. Non-enzymatic conversion of L-aspartate or L-serine residues to their D-configurations is involved in age-associated protein degeneration. Moreover, the measurement of plasma or urinary D-/L-serine or D-/L-aspartate levels may have diagnostic or prognostic value in the treatment of kidney diseases. This review aims to summarize current understanding of D-amino-acid-associated biology with a major focus on mammalian physiology and pathology.

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© 2018 by The Keio Journal of Medicine
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