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When a molecule is being used in some biochemical process it has a certain 3-d structure. Is this maintained throughout it's usage or can one specific molecule change it's 3-d shape while it is being 'used' in the process. Can a specific molecule in all it's interactions in a cell say , take on 4 or 5 distinct 3-d shapes??

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It's too broad. But as per enzymes and basically proteins it happens. – Devashish Das Jul 27 '14 at 5:58
up vote 3 down vote accepted

All molecules have a 3D shape. This is referred to as it's conformation. Most molecules have certain degrees of flexibility. For example, single bonds usually allow free rotation, while double bonds don't. Cyclic structures have less freedom, but can still twist into several shapes. This can be important because some molecules bend into a certain conformation and then fit into protein binding sites they normally couldn't fit into. And it's not just small molecules, proteins, RNA, and DNA fold into specific shapes, and often must be unfolded, twisted, or bent in order to carry out their function. Protein dynamics is an active field of study. A great example is the ATP synthetase, which has a large rotating portion and acts a lot like a motor.

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