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In my biochemistry textbook the terms alpha helix and alpha subunit are both used. Are these two terms synonymous? For instance, hemoglobin has an alpha and beta subunit, are these the same thing as alpha helix and beta pleated sheet?

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These terms are completely unrelated. Alpha-subunit is an arbitrary name for a protein subunit in a multi-subunit protein complex (one having a quaternary structure like haemoglobin or G-protein etc).

Alpha-helix is a type of secondary structure.


Addition by David:

For those who may be unfamiliar with this, alpha, beta, gamma etc. are Greek letters of the alphabet (equivalent to English a, b, c) — also written α, β, γ. They are sometimes used in science to enumerate or differentiate between a series of related things — proteins, small molecules etc.

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    $\begingroup$ For those who may be unfamiliar with this, alpha, beta, gamma etc. are Greek letters of the alphabet (equivalent to English a, b, c) — also written α, β, γ. They are sometimes used in science to enumerate or differentiate between a series of related things — proteins, small molecules etc. $\endgroup$ – David Apr 30 '16 at 8:56
  • $\begingroup$ @David Much appreciated! $\endgroup$ – Atticus283blink May 1 '16 at 3:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Atticus283blink If this answer addressed your problem, please consider accepting it by clicking on the check mark/tick to the left of the answer, turning it green. This marks the question as resolved to your satisfaction, and awards reputation both to you and the person who answered. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG May 1 '16 at 5:05

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