What Is Deamination?

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Deamination is a fundamental biological process that plays a crucial role in various metabolic pathways, particularly in the metabolism of amino acids. This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of deamination, its mechanisms, significance in biology, and its relevance across different organisms and biochemical contexts.

What Is Deamination?

Deamination is a biochemical process wherein an amino group (-NH2) is removed from a compound, typically an amino acid or a nucleotide, resulting in the formation of ammonia (NH3) or ammonium ion (NH4+) and a corresponding keto or aldehyde compound. In biological systems, deamination primarily occurs in the context of amino acid metabolism, where amino acids are converted into intermediate metabolites for energy production or synthesis of other biomolecules.

Mechanism Of Deamination:

The process of deamination involves the enzymatic removal of the amino group from the substrate molecule. Enzymes known as deaminases catalyze this reaction, facilitating the conversion of the amino group into ammonia or its derivatives. The liberated ammonia can then participate in various metabolic pathways or be excreted from the organism.

Significance Of Deamination In Biology:

  • Amino Acid Metabolism: Deamination is a key step in the catabolism of amino acids, allowing for the breakdown of excess amino acids or the conversion of specific amino acids into intermediates for energy production or biosynthesis.
  • Nitrogen Balance: Deamination helps maintain nitrogen balance in the body by removing excess nitrogen from amino acids, which can otherwise be toxic if accumulated in high concentrations.
  • Liver Function: The liver plays a central role in deamination, where amino acids are deaminated to produce ammonia, which is further metabolized into urea through the urea cycle. This process is crucial for detoxifying ammonia and eliminating excess nitrogen from the body.
  • Plant Metabolism: Deamination also occurs in plants, where it contributes to nitrogen assimilation and the recycling of nitrogenous compounds for growth and development.

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Examples Of Deamination:

  • Deamination of Amino Acids: One of the most common examples of deamination is the conversion of glutamine to glutamate and ammonia by the enzyme glutaminase.
  • Deamination in the Liver: In the liver, alanine undergoes deamination by the enzyme alanine dehydrogenase, leading to the formation of pyruvate and ammonia.
  • Plant Nitrogen Metabolism: In plants, the enzyme glutamate dehydrogenase catalyzes the deamination of glutamate to α-ketoglutarate and ammonia, a critical step in nitrogen assimilation.


Deamination is a vital biochemical process with far-reaching implications in biology, playing essential roles in amino acid metabolism, nitrogen balance, and detoxification. Understanding the mechanisms and significance of deamination provides valuable insights into the intricate workings of cellular metabolism and organismal physiology.


What Is The Deamination Process?

Typically in humans, deamination occurs when an excess in protein is consumed, resulting in the removal of an amine group, which is then converted into ammonia and expelled via urination. This deamination process allows the body to convert excess amino acids into usable by-products.

What Causes Deamination?

Deamination of the nucleobases is one of the most common types of damage in DNA, which can result from spontaneous hydrolysis, nitrosative stress, or activities of cellular deaminase enzymes (1–3).

What Is Deamination And Transamination?

Transamination – The transfer of an amine group from one amino acid to another and is used to synthesis nonessential amino acids; deamination – The removal of an amine group as ammonia. Ammonia is used to synthesize urea in the liver.

What Is Deamination And Example?

Deamination is the removal of an amine group from a molecule. An enzyme that is responsible for this reaction is called deaminases. In the human body, deanimation takes place primarily in the liver, however, glutamate is also deaminated in the kidneys.

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