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What is the significance of the –R group (that is, variable radical) in an amino acid molecule?
The –R group, also termed as lateral chain, is the variable portion of the amino acid molecule. The –R group can be a complicated carbonic chain, a replacing methyl group (making then the amino acid alkaline) or even just a hydrogen (making glycine, the simplest amino acid). Therefore the –R group is significant as it is the differentiation factor of the amino acids.