Also Known As: Serine, L-Serine
Serine (abbreviated as Ser or S) is an amino acid with the formula HO2CCH(NH2)CH2OH. It is one of the proteinogenic amino acids. By virtue of the hydroxyl group, serine is classified as a polar amino acid.
Serine plays an important role in the catalytic function of many enzymes. It has been shown to occur in the active sites of chymotrypsin, trypsin, and many other enzymes. The so-called nerve gases and many substances used in insecticides have been shown to act by combining with a residue of serine in the active site of acetylcholine esterase, inhibiting the enzyme completely.
Serine proteases are a common type of protease.
D-Serine, synthesized in the brain by serine racemase from L-serine (its enantiomer), serves as both a neurotransmitter and a gliotransmitter by activating NMDA receptors, making them able to open if they then also bind glutamate. D-serine is a potent agonist at the glycine site of the NMDA-type glutamate receptor. For the receptor to open, glutamate and either glycine or D-serine must bind to it. In fact, D-serine is a more potent agonist at the glycine site on the NMDAR than glycine itself. D-serine was only thought to exist in bacteria until relatively recently; it was the second D amino acid discovered to naturally exist in humans, present as a signalling molecule in the brain, soon after the discovery of D-aspartate. Had D amino acids been discovered in humans sooner, the glycine site on the NMDA receptor might instead be named the D-serine site.