|Molecular weight||131.175 g/mol|
|Names and Identifiers|
|CAS Registry Number||61-90-5|
Leucine is an essential amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Leucine is an α-amino acid, meaning it contains an α-amino group (which is in the protonated −NH3+ form under biological conditions), an α-carboxylic acid group (which is in the deprotonated −COO− form under biological conditions), and a side chain isobutyl group, making it a non-polar aliphatic amino acid. It is essential in humans, meaning the body cannot synthesize it: it must be obtained from the diet. Human dietary sources are foods that contain protein, such as meats, dairy products, soy products, and beans and other legumes. It is encoded by the codons UUA, UUG, CUU, CUC, CUA, and CUG.
Like valine and isoleucine, leucine is a branched-chain amino acid. The primary metabolic end products of leucine metabolism are acetyl-CoA and acetoacetate; consequently, it is one of the two exclusively ketogenic amino acids, with lysine being the other. It is the most important ketogenic amino acid in humans.
Leucine and β-hydroxy β-methylbutyric acid, a minor leucine metabolite, exhibit pharmacological activity in humans and have been demonstrated to promote protein biosynthesis via the phosphorylation of the mechanistic target of rapamycin.