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In biochemistry, a methyl group is a hydrophobic alkyl functional group derived from methane (CH4). It has the formula -CH3 and is very often abbreviated as -Me in the structure of a molecule. This hydrocarbon unit can be found in many organic compounds.
- See also: methylation
The introduction of methyl groups as new substituents in a compound usually increases the lipophilicity of the compound and reduces its water solubility. It should improve the ease of absorption of the analogue into a biological membrane but will make its release from biological membranes into the aqueous media more difficult. The incorporation of a methyl group can have one of three general effects on the rate of metabolism of an analogue:
- an increased rate of metabolism due to oxidation of the methyl group
- an increase in the rate of metabolism due to demethylation by the transfer of the methyl group to another compound, or a reduction of the analogue.
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