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Edman protein sequencing, also known as Edman degradation, allows for the ordered sequence of amino acids of a protein to be identified. The Edman reagent reacts with the amine of the N terminal amino acid, which can then be selectively detached and identified. This cycle is repeated for the next amino acid. Because the efficiency of the reaction decreases with each cycle, Edman sequencing can usually handle up to roughly 50 amino acids; proteins longer than 50 amino acids are usually broken into peptide fragments for sequencing. If the N terminal amino acid is modified, or buried within the body of the protein, Edman sequencing will not work.
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