■ Molecular configuration can be changed only by breaking covalent bonds. For a carbon atom with four different substituents (a chiral carbon), the substituent groups can be arranged in two different ways, generating stereoisomers with distinct properties. Only one stereoisomer is biologically active. Molecular conformation is the position of atoms in space that can be changed by rotation about single bonds, without breaking covalent bonds.

■ Interactions between biological molecules are almost invariably stereospecific: they require a complementary match between the interacting molecules.

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