Protein denaturation is a process in which the application of external stress leads proteins to lose all the structures present in their native state. However, denaturation reactions are not strong enough to break the peptide bonds. Therefore, they don't lose their primary structure (Figure 1). This stress promotes the disruption of protein interactions and can be applied as a chemical stress, a physical stress, or both.
Figure 1. Schematic protein denaturation process.
When proteins in a living cell are denatured, the cell activity is disrupted, which can lead to cell death. However, this is a very common process in food science, where protein denaturation is used as a tool to cook, create new ingredients, and improve some cooking processes.