Isoprene Lipids

isoprene
terpene building block
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carvone
spearmint oil
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beta carotene
(bcr.pdb)
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Vitamin K1
(pqn.pdb)
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Terpenes are lipids made from the isoprene building block.  They are polymers of the branched five carbon isoprene unit .  Carvone, for example, is made of two of these isoprene units .  Beta carotene is the orange pigment found in many vegetables.  When split in two, it produces retinol (vitamin A), the visual pigment in humans.  The long conjugated double bond system of many terpenes allow them to absorb visible light and act as pigments and be involved in photochemical reaction.  Other fat soluble vitamins are also terpenes.  Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is an electron carrier in plant photosynthesis.  It is very similar to vitamin K2 (menaquinone) that is involved in the blood coagulation cascade. 


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