Stereospecificity

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
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In living organisms, chiral molecules (capable of forming different stereoisomers) are usually present in only one of their chiral forms; for instance, protein amino acids are always L isomers while glucose is only present as its D isomer. Stereospecificity is the ability to distinguish between stereoisomers and is a characteristic feature of living cells, particularly enzymes and other proteins. For instance, the binding site of a protein may be complementary to a stereoisomer with a particular chirality, for the same reason a left glove will not fit a right hand.