Exploring the Interplay of Structure and Function in Biology

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In summary, a structural-functional relationship exists between molecules and their functions in biology. There is not a neat, concise term for this concept, but something like structure-function relationship or function-structure would work.
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BillTre
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Physics has the concepts of mass and energy, and has the combined concept of space-time.
Similarly, biology has lots of information about biological structures (going from big body parts down to the atomic structure of complex molecules.
Additionally, there is a lot known about about biological function. How things work, as manifested by dynamic biological structure.
It is not surprising therefore to hear about structural-functional relationships in biology, but there is not a nice concise term like space-time for this.
Something that would denote a two sides of a coin kind of view of the one thing, the embodiment (or manifestation) of one in the other.
The best I can do is structure-function (or function-structure).
I guess I could use structure-function relationship, but it is a large and complex bunch or words and not too appealing to me. It could be abbreviated to SFR, but I try to avoid abbreviations for basic concepts (not always successful).

I am doing a solicitation of better terms that might work for this.
 
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Structure-function relationships is probably how I've mostly seen this concept referred to in the context of biology. For organic chemistry (specifically drug design), chemists will talk about structure-activity relationship (abbreviated SAR) to discuss how changes to different regions of a drug affects its biological function. The concept is important enough in drug design that quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) frameworks and models have been developed to better formalize the process (e.g. see https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jm4004285).

One could argue that structural biology, biochemistry, and maybe even the entire field of chemistry are, at their core, about connecting molecular structure to function (or at least the properties of the molecules).
 
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That's really interesting, @Ygggdrasil!

How is the spatial distribution of different chemical properties (like parts of a protein having different chemical properties and producing different local chemical micro-environments) described concisely?

This could have many applications, but mostly I think of it with respect to a spatial arrangement of different chemical proterties on folded RNAs and proteins (an extreme case of life's ordering of matter).
 
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Ygggdrasil said:
One could argue that structural biology, biochemistry, and maybe even the entire field of chemistry are, at their core, about connecting molecular structure to function (or at least the properties of the molecules).
This relationship is at the basis of some issues in theoretical or philosophical biology. Philosophy of biology is not like philosophy of science (considering how and why science works and how it should be done). It is often about the explanations (often philosophical) of more general issues.

One is the relationship of meaning with physical things.
In philosophy, semiotics refers to,among other things, the relationship between matter and meaning.
Biosemiotics considers relationships between matter and function in biology.
In these cases, I generally take function to be the same as the functional meaning of the structure (chemical structure). This seems to piss off some philosophers, but expresses this same kind of structure-function connection in this related field.
In this view, the structure of a chemical has a meaning, which is what it does/can do (kind of similar to a quantum particles probability field).

These things are involved in how processes unfold.
 
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I think I'll be trying out "functional structure" as a term for the biochemical combination of structure and function.
Self-explanatory, not encumbered with other meanings.
 

Related to Exploring the Interplay of Structure and Function in Biology

What is the relationship between structure and function in biology?

The structure of a biological organism or system is closely related to its function. This means that the physical characteristics and organization of a living thing directly impact how it performs its various functions.

How do scientists study structure-function in biology?

Scientists use a variety of techniques and tools to study the relationship between structure and function in biology. These include microscopic imaging, genetic analysis, and biochemical experiments.

What are some examples of structure-function relationships in biology?

One example is the structure of a bird's wing, which allows it to fly and perform its function of finding food and escaping predators. Another example is the structure of enzymes, which are specifically shaped to catalyze biochemical reactions in the body.

How does structure-function impact evolutionary processes?

The structure-function relationship plays a crucial role in evolution. Organisms with structures that are well-suited for their functions are more likely to survive and reproduce, passing on their advantageous traits to future generations.

How does understanding structure-function in biology contribute to advancements in medicine?

Studying the relationship between structure and function in biology helps scientists understand how diseases and disorders affect the body's structures and functions. This knowledge can then be used to develop treatments and cures for these conditions.

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