Source: foodrevolution.org/blog/plant-based-protein/

Classification of protein: A Short Tour Through The World of Protein

Proteins are the most abundant macro-molecules, occurring in each cell and each part of a cell. They are generally formed by one or more long chain(s) of amino acid residues.

Classification of protein

1) Based on source

There are two types of protein.

a) Animal protein: They are derived from animal sources. These are usually high quality protein. e.g.: eggs, milk, fish.

b) Plant protein: These are derived from plants and lower quantity protein. e.g.: legumes.


2) Based on the shape of protein molecule

These are of two type.

a) Globular protein: Polypeptide chain folded into globular form, soluble in water. E.g.: Insulin, albumin etc.

    • Soluble in water.

b) Fibrous: Polypeptide chains arranged in a long strands. e.g.: hair, skin etc.

    • Insoluble in water.
    • Also called scleroprotein.
    • Resistant to proteolytic enzymes.
    • Examples: Collagen, actin, myosin, keratin of hair, claws etc.


3) Based on shape of composition and solubility

Three major groups are present, such as: a)simple protein, b) conjugated protein, c) Derived protein.

a) Simple protein: These are of globular type and contain only amino acids as structural components. These are further classified on the basis of solubility into several types:

Protein name Properties Examples


  • Soluble in water.
  • Heat coagulable.
Egg albumin.


  • Insoluble in water.
  • Soluble in dilute salt solution.
  • Heat coagulable.
Egg, milk, serum


  • Soluble in dilute acids and alkalies but in neutral solvents.
Glutenin of wheat, oryzenin of rice


  • Soluble in 70% alcohol.
  • Rich in proline.
Zein of corn


  • Insoluble in all solvents considered so far.
  • Animal protein present in hair, nails.
Keratin of hair

Histone protein

  • Soluble in water, dilute acid and salt solution.
The globin of hemoglobin


  • They are the simplest protein with low molecular weight, strongly basic with argenine.
Clupeine from herring sperm.


b) Conjugated protein: They are also globular protein combined with a non protein group, called prosthetic group. These are further classified on the basis of nature of prosthetic groups present.

Protein Properties Examples
Nucleoprotein Have nucleic acids as their prosthetic group. Protamins
Proteoglycans Are polysaccharides combined with small amount of protein. Mucoproteins
Glycoprotein Proteins are conjugated with carbohydrates.
Chromoproteins The prosthetic group are color compound. Flavoenzymes
Lipoprotein Proteins are combined with phospholipids. Egg yolk


c) Derived proteins: They are products of denaturation or partial digestion of proteins.

  1. Proteans: Fibre from fibrinogen.

Coagulated proteins: Coagulated egg white.

Written by

Sufia Akter, B.S. (Hons), Department of Botany, University of Dhaka

Revised by

  • Somudro Mahbub Nasir on 11 July 2021
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