Researchers identify genetics behind deadly oat blight

A multi-institution team co-led by a Cornell University researcher has identified the genetic mechanisms that enable the production of a deadly toxin called Victorin—the causal agent for Victoria blight of oats, a disease ...

The birth of a bacterial tRNA gene

Translation is the process by which genetic information is converted into proteins, the workhorses of the cell. Small molecules called transfer RNAs (tRNAs) play a crucial role in translation; they are the adapter molecules ...

Turning a common plastic into high-value molecules

If you thought those flimsy disposable plastic grocery bags represented most of our plastic waste problem, think again. The volume of plastic the world throws away every year could rebuild the Ming Dynasty's Great Wall of ...

Transcription factors may inadvertently lock in DNA mistakes

Transcription factor proteins are the light switches of the human genome. By binding to DNA, they help turn genes 'on' or 'off' and start the important process of copying DNA into an RNA template that acts as a blueprint ...

Small RNA as a central player in infections

More than half of the world's population carries the bacterium Helicobacter pylori in their stomach mucosa. It often causes no problems throughout life, but sometimes it can cause inflammation, and in some cases, it can even ...

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Small molecule

In pharmacology and biochemistry, a small molecule is an organic compound that is not a polymer. Biopolymers such as nucleic acids, proteins, and polysaccharides (such as starch or cellulose) are not small molecules, although their constituent monomers—ribo- or deoxyribonucleotides, amino acids, and monosaccharides, respectively—are often considered to be. Very small oligomers are also usually considered small molecules, such as dinucleotides, peptides such as the antioxidant glutathione, and disaccharides such as sucrose.

While small molecules almost always have a lower molecular weight than biopolymers, a very small protein with a defined fold, such as the artificial ten-amino-acid protein chignolin[1], can indeed be smaller than some exceptionally large small molecules such as triglycerides.

Small molecules can have a variety of biological functions, serving as cell signalling molecules, as tools in molecular biology, as drugs in medicine, and in countless other roles. These compounds can be natural (such as secondary metabolites) or artificial (such as antiviral drugs); they may have a beneficial effect against a disease (such as FDA approved drugs) or may be detrimental (such as teratogens and carcinogens).

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