There are four levels of protein structure. Primary structure is the linear polypeptide chain. Secondary structure occurs when hydrogen bonding between amino acids in the same polypeptide chain causes the formation of structures such as beta-pleated sheets and alpha-helices. Tertiary structure occurs as a result of an attraction between different amino acids of the polypeptide chain and interactions between the different secondary structures. Finally, certain proteins contain quaternary structure where multiple polypeptide chains are bonded together to form a larger molecule. Hemoglobin is an example of a protein with quaternary structure. The figure below illustrates the different levels of protein structure.
This video does a nice job of illustrating and explaining the different protein structures.
References & Links
1. “225 Peptide Bond-01” by OpenStax College – Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site. http://cnx.org/content/col11496/1.6/, Jun 19, 2013.. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:225_Peptide_Bond-01.jpg#/media/File:225_Peptide_Bond-01.jpg
Protein Structure – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lijQ3a8yUYQ