What are antimetabolites?

Certain compounds similar in structure to the vitamin molecule (or to the portion of the molecule containing the active site) can replace the vitamin by attaching themselves to the enzyme. These substances are called ‘antimetabolites’ or ‘metabolic antagonists’. They block the normal action of the co-enzyme and in effect, result in cellular deficiency of the vitamin.

The antimetabolite is a chemical substance which is shaped like the substrate. In other words, it is a structural relative or analogue of the substrates. Probably for this reason it also is able to combine with the active center of the enzyme.

Certain other antimetabolites exhibit anti-vitamins activity because they are capable of blocking biosynthesis of the coenzyme molecule; such compounds may or may not resemble the vitamin in structure.

In either case, a condition similar to true vitamins deficiency is produced. Antimetabolites are useful in producing experimental vitamin deficiencies, especially those deficiency that developed slowly from dietary restriction alone.

Antimetabolites also useful adjuncts in delineating the biochemical pathways in which the vitamin is involved, and in relating metabolic disturbances to symptoms of deficiency.

The use of vitamin metabolites created new opportunities for inducing a studying many aspects of s wide range and variety of malformations and fortuitously led to an avenue of human studies.

A variety of antagonists of vitamins, hormones and cell metabolites had been synthesized after Donald Woods of Oxford University discovered in 1940 that sulfonamides exerted their antibacterial action by antagonizing the role of 4-aminobenzoic acid, a growth factor for  bacteria. Such antagonists were described as antimetabolites.
What are antimetabolites?

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