Ch2 O

l-Aspartyl-l-phenylalanine methyl ester (aspartame)

Many small peptides exert their effects at very low concentrations. For example, a number of vertebrate hormones (Chapter 23) are small peptides. These include oxytocin (nine amino acid residues), which is secreted by the posterior pituitary and stimulates uterine contractions; bradykinin (nine residues), which inhibits inflammation of tissues; and thyrotropin-releasing factor (three residues), which is formed in the hypothalamus and stimulates the release of another hormone, thyrotropin, from the anterior pituitary gland. Some extremely toxic mushroom poisons, such as amanitin, are also small peptides, as are many antibiotics.

Slightly larger are small polypeptides and oligopep-tides such as the pancreatic hormone insulin, which contains two polypeptide chains, one having 30 amino acid

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