Proteins, from the Greek proteios, meaning first, are a class of organic compounds which are present in and vital to every living cell. In the form of skin, hair, callus, cartilage, muscles, tendons and ligaments, proteins hold together, protect, and provide structure to the body of a multi-celled organism. In the form of enzymes, hormones, antibodies, and globulins, they catalyze, regulate, and protect the body chemistry. In the form of hemoglobin, myoglobin and various lipoproteins, they effect the transport of oxygen and other substances within an organism.
Thumbnail: Structure of human hemoglobin. The proteins α and β subunits are in red and blue, and the iron-containing heme groups in green. Image used with permission (CC BY-SA 3.0; Zephyris).