Which of the following amino acids becomes an essential amino acid in a patient suffering from Phenylketonuria (PKU) disorder?
e. glutamic acid
Amino acids play central roles both as building blocks of proteins and as intermediates in metabolism. The 20 amino acids that are found within proteins convey a vast array of chemical versatility.
Humans can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids. The others must be supplied in the food. Failure to obtain enough of even 1 of the 10 essential amino acids, those that we cannot make, results in degradation of the body's proteins—muscle and so forth—to obtain the one amino acid that is needed. Unlike fat and starch, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use—the amino acids must be in the food every day.
The 10 amino acids that we can produce are alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine.
The amino acids regarded as essential for humans are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine, leucine, lysine, and histidine. Additionally, cysteine (or sulphur-containing amino acids), tyrosine (or aromatic amino acids), and arginine are required by infants and growing children. Essential amino acids are "essential" not because they are more important to life than the others, but because the body does not synthesize them. They must be present in the diet or they will not be present in the body.
In addition, the amino acids arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, histidine, proline, serine and tyrosine are considered conditionally essential, meaning they are not normally required in the diet, but must be supplied exogenously to specific populations that do not synthesize them in adequate amounts. An example would be with the disease phenylketonuria (PKU). Individuals living with PKU must keep their intake of phenylalanine extremely low to prevent mental retardation and other metabolic complications. However, they cannot synthesize tyrosine from phenylalanine, so tyrosine becomes essential in the diet of PKU patients.
Citation: http://www.biology.arizona.edu/biochemistry/problem_sets/aa/aa.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_amino_acid.