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tertiary structure

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noun Biochemistry.

the way in which the helixes or beta structures of a polypeptide are folded or arranged into a three-dimensional configuration.

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Origin of tertiary structure

First recorded in 1950–55
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

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Scientific definitions for tertiary structure

tertiary structure

The three-dimensional structure of a protein or nucleic acid. Amino acids form secondary structures such as alpha helices, beta sheets, and random coils, which in turn fold on themselves to form the tertiary structure of the protein. Only if a protein is correctly folded will it have its intended biological activity. Several diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and mad cow disease, are caused by alterations in the tertiary structure of one or more proteins. See also primary structure quaternary structure secondary structure.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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