Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday's Molecule #190

Last week's molecule was carnitine (3-hydroxy-4-(trimethylazaniumyl)butanoate) or carnitine. The winner was Raúl Mancera [Monday's Molecule #189].

Name this week's molecule. Be sure to give an unambiguous name—it can be the common name or the IUPAC name. Why is this molecule important in some species?

Post your answer as a comment. I'll hold off releasing any comments for 24 hours. The first one with the correct answer wins. I will only post mostly correct answers to avoid embarrassment. The winner will be treated to a free lunch.

There could be two winners. If the first correct answer isn't from an undergraduate student then I'll select a second winner from those undergraduates who post the correct answer. You will need to identify yourself as an undergraduate in order to win. (Put "undergraduate" at the bottom of your comment.)

Some past winners are from distant lands so their chances of taking up my offer of a free lunch are slim. (That's why I can afford to do this!)

In order to win you must post your correct name. Anonymous and pseudoanonymous commenters can't win the free lunch.

Winners will have to contact me by email to arrange a lunch date. Please try and beat the regular winners. Most of them live far away and I'll never get to take them to lunch. This makes me sad.

Comments are now open.

UPDATE: This is the answer posted by Raul A. Félix de Sousa: "L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine, or (S)-2-amino-3-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)propanoic acid, or L-DOPA (formula shown in the zwitterionic form)." It is correct and he is the winner.

Nov. 2009: Jason Oakley, Alex Ling
Oct. 17: Bill Chaney, Roger Fan
Oct. 24: DK
Oct. 31: Joseph C. Somody
Nov. 7: Jason Oakley
Nov. 15: Thomas Ferraro, Vipulan Vigneswaran
Nov. 21: Vipulan Vigneswaran (honorary mention to Raul A. Félix de Sousa)
Nov. 28: Philip Rodger
Dec. 5: 凌嘉誠 (Alex Ling)
Dec. 12: Bill Chaney
Dec. 19: Joseph C. Somody
Jan. 9: Dima Klenchin
Jan. 23: David Schuller
Jan. 30: Peter Monaghan
Feb. 7: Thomas Ferraro, Charles Motraghi
Feb. 13: Joseph C. Somody
March 5: Albi Celaj
March 12: Bill Chaney, Raul A. Félix de Sousa
March 19: no winner
March 26: John Runnels, Raul A. Félix de Sousa
April 2: Sean Ridout
April 9: no winner
April 16: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
April 23: Dima Klenchin, Deena Allan
April 30: Sean Ridout
May 7: Matt McFarlane
May 14: no winner
May 21: no winner
May 29: Mike Hamilton, Dmitri Tchigvintsev
June 4: Bill Chaney, Matt McFarlane
June 18: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
June 25: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
July 2: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
July 16: Sean Ridout, William Grecia
July 23: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
July 30: Bill Chaney and Raul A. Félix de Sousa
Aug. 7: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
Aug. 13: Matt McFarlane
Aug. 20: Stephen Spiro
Aug. 27: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
Sept. 3: Matt McFarlane
Sept. 10: Matt Talarico
Sept. 17: no winner
Sept. 24: Mikkel Rasmussen
Oct. 1: John Runnels
Oct. 8: Raúl Mancera
Oct. 15: Raul A. Félix de Sousa


  1. Molecule # 190 is L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine, or (S)-2-amino-3-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)propanoic acid, or L-DOPA (formula shown in the zwitterionic form). It is the precursor to the synthesis of the catecholamines, an important class of neurotransmitters.

  2. DOPA or L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine, an important neurotransmitter precursor. Just in time for the Society for Neuroscience precursor/40 year anniversary of Oliver Sacks' novel

  3. L-Dopa or (L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine), is apparently a precursor to many different chemical in biology, ranging from compounds like neurotransmitters to melanin pigment.

    /Mikkel Rasmussen
    Not undergraduate.

  4. This molecule is the zwitterion of L-DOPA (L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine). It acts as the precursor for the synthesis of catecholamine neurotransmitters, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine. Clinically, the purified form of L-DOPA is used to increase dopamine levels in patients of Parkinson's disease, which is marked by the death of dopamine-producing cells in the substantia nigra.

    I'm an undergrad at U of T!

  5. The molecule is L-DOPA. It is important as it is a precursor to many neurotransmitters and one capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier.
    --Joseph C. Somody, Graduate Student

  6. L-DOPA (L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine)

    It is the precursor for the monoamine or catecholamine neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. Dopamine is formed by the decarboxylation of L-DOPA.

  7. L-DOPA
    precursor to dopamine and epinephrine amongst others

    Ravi Khemka, Mumbai

  8. L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-dopa)

  9. L-dopa ((S)-2-amino-3-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)
    propanoic acid), which is a neurotransmitter precursor in (at least) humans.