tertiary structure

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ter·ti·ar·y struc·ture

the three-dimensional configuration of a biopolymer.

tertiary structure

n.
The complete three-dimensional structure of all the atoms in a protein or nucleic acid, consisting of the arrangement of the secondary structure into patterns such as folds and supercoils.

tertiary structure

Used mainly of a protein to refer to its three-dimensional folded shape in space. The primary structure is simply the order of the amino acids in the polypeptide chain; the secondary structure may be a coiling, the alpha helix, or a layering known as the beta-pleated sheet. The tertiary structure is determined by chemically active groups spaced along the chain that attract each other to form bonds at specific positions. The tertiary structure of proteins such as enzymes, is crucial to their function.