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Ligand

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Definition

noun, plural: ligands

(1) A molecule, ion or atom bonded to the central metal atom of a coordination compound.

(2) Any substance (e.g. hormone, drug, functional group, etc.) that binds specifically and reversibly to another chemical entity to form a larger complex.


Supplement

A ligand may function as agonist or antagonist.

Many ligands are found in biological systems, such as cofactors and porphyrin in hemoglobin.


Word origin: From Latin ligandus, gerundive of ligare ‘to bind’.

Related term: ligand gated ion channels