As a striking variety of biological activities are elicited by natural products, these chemicals have been used for decades to study biological phenomena. Understanding how these products interfere with normal cell functions at a molecular level led to a wide range of discoveries including new signaling pathways and proteins. Moreover, as natural products often act as chemical inhibitors, such studies often allow the identification of their binding partners as relevant targets for drug design. This article aims to emphasize how natural products or engineered analogs can be used as chemical tools to apprehend some biological problems from the point of view of a chemical biologist.
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