Tracing the evolution of vision in fruit flies

The function of the visual photopigment rhodopsin and its action in the retina to facilitate vision is well understood. However, there remain questions about other biological functions of this family of proteins (opsins) ...

Physiological mechanisms leading to enterovirus opening revealed

Enteroviruses are one of the most common human pathogens leading to high number of acute and chronic infections worldwide. The physiological events leading to successful enterovirus infection are still poorly understood. ...

Graphene nanoflakes: A new tool for precision medicine

Chemists funded by the SNSF have created a new compound for flexible drug delivery that specifically targets prostate cancer cells. Incorporating four different molecules, the compound prevents tumor cells from multiplying, ...

Revolutionising the CRISPR method

Everyone's talking about CRISPR-Cas. This biotechnological method offers a relatively quick and easy way to manipulate single genes in cells, meaning they can be precisely deleted, replaced or modified. Furthermore, in recent ...

New insights into the origin of life

A famous experiment in 1953 showed that amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, could have formed spontaneously under the atmospheric conditions of early Earth. However, just because molecules could form doesn't mean ...

Miniaturized version of ribosome found in microsporidia

A research team lead by MIMS/SciLifeLab research group leader Jonas Barandun, Umeå University, Sweden, uses cryo-electron microscopy to provide near atomic details of the smallest known eukaryotic cytoplasmic protein synthesis ...

New insight into microRNA function can give gene therapy a boost

Scientists at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Oxford have shown that small RNA molecules occurring naturally in cells, i.e. microRNAs, are also abundant in cell nuclei. Previously, microRNAs were mainly ...

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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).

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA