In organic chemistry, a heteroatom (from Ancient Greek heteros, different, + atomos) is any atom that is not carbon or hydrogen in a ring structure. Usually, the term is used to indicate that non-carbon atoms have replaced carbon in the backbone of the molecular structure. Typical heteroatoms are nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine, bromine, and iodine.
In the description of protein structure, in particular in the Protein Data Bank file format, a heteroatom record (HETATM) describes an atom as belonging to a small molecule cofactor rather than to be part of a biopolymer chain.
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- "Atomic Coordinate Entry Format Version 3.2". wwPDB. October 2008.
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