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Monomers, polymers, and macromolecules. There are 4 categories of macromolecules: Carbohydrates Proteins, Lipids, and Nucleic acids. Carbon is the central element. All biomolecules contain a Carbon chain or ring Carbon has 4 outer shell electrons (valence = 4)

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monomers polymers and macromolecules

Monomers, polymers, and macromolecules

There are 4 categories of macromolecules:




and Nucleic acids

carbon is the central element
Carbon is the central element
  • All biomolecules contain a Carbon chain or ring
  • Carbon has 4 outer shell electrons (valence = 4)
  • Therefore it’s bonding capacity is great
  • It forms covalent bonds –hence, has strong bonds
  • Once bound to other elements (or to other Carbons), it is very stable
carbon linkages
Carbon linkages

CH4 =


  • Single chains
  • Rings

= C3H8

The 4 types of biomolecules oftenconsist of large carbon chains

carbon binds to more than just hydrogen
Carbon binds to more than just hydrogen!!
  • To OH groups in sugars
  • To NH2 groups in amino acids
  • To H2PO4 groups of nucleotides of DNA, RNA, and ATP

Amino acid

OH, NH2, PO4 are called ‘functional groups’!


Fig. 3.1

Functional groups:

isomers have the same molecular formulas but different structures
Isomers have the same molecular formulas but different structures
  • Structural isomer = difference in the C skeleton structure
  • Stereoisomer = difference in location of functional groups
enantiomers are special types of stereoisomers
Enantiomers are special types of stereoisomers

Enantiomers are mirror images of each other

One such enantiomer contains C bound to 4 different molecules and is called a chiral molecule

Chiral molecules rotate polarized light to the right (D form) or to the left (L form) molecules

Examples: amino acids (L form)

sugars (D form)

monomers and polymers
Monomers and polymers
  • Monomers are made into polymers via dehydration reactions
  • Polymers are broken down into monomers via hydrolysis reactions
carbohydrates or sugars
Carbohydrates (or sugars)
  • Simple sugars (monosaccharides)
  • Only one 3-C, 5-C, 6-C chain or ring involved

Fig. 3.5

Examples of sugar monomers*

*Remember how C’s are counted within the ring structures (starting from the right side and counting clockwise)

carbohydrates sugars
Carbohydrates (sugars)
  • Double sugars (disaccharides)
  • Two 6-C chains or rings bonded together
carbohydrates sugars1
Carbohydrates (sugars)
  • Complex carbo’s (polysaccharides)
    • Starch
    • Cellulose
    • Glycogen
    • Chitin

Glycogen to glucose in animals


Fig. 3.9


Starch structure vs Glycogen structure


Fig. 3.10

Polysaccharides: Cellulose structure

  • Composed of chains of amino acids
  • 20 amino acids exist
  • Amino acids contain
    • Central Carbon
    • Amine group
    • Carboxyl group
    • R group

Fig. 3.20

The 20 Amino Acids

All differ with respect to their R group

peptide bonds occur between amino acids
Peptide bonds occur between amino acids
  • The COOH group of 1 amino acid binds to the NH2 group of another amino acid
  • Forms a peptide bond!

Fig. 3.21

The chain (polymer) of amino acids forms a variety of loops, coils, and folded sheets from an assortment of bonds and attractions between amino acids within the chain(s)

there are at least 7 functions of proteins
There are at least 7 functions of proteins
  • Enzyme catalysts – specific for 1 reaction
  • Defense – antibody proteins, other proteins
  • Transport- Hgb, Mgb, transferrins, etc
  • Support – keratin, fibrin, collagen
  • Motion – actin/myosin, cytoskeletal fibers
  • Regulation- some hormones, regulatory proteins on DNA, cell receptors
  • Storage – Ca and Fe attached to storage proteins
there are four levels of protein structure
There are four levels of protein structure
  • Primary = sequence of aa’s
  • Secondary = forms pleated sheet, helix, or coil
  • Tertiary = entire length of aa’s folded into a shape
  • Quaternary = several aa sequences linked together

Fig. 3.23

Motifs and Domains: Important features of 2° and 4° structure

nucleic acids dna and rna
Nucleic acids: DNA and RNA
  • DNA = deoxyribonucleic acid
  • DNA is a double polymer (chain)
  • Each chain is made of nucleotides
  • The 2 chains bond together to form a helix
dna nucleotides
DNA nucleotides
  • Each nucleotide in DNA contains:
    • 5-C sugar


    • Phosphate
    • Nitrogen base

-adenine (A)

-guanine (G)

-cytosine (C)

-thymine (T)


Fig. 3.14

One polymer of nucleotides on one “backbone” of nucleic acid


Fig. 3.15

The DNA “double helix”

lipids hydrophobic molecules
Lipids: Hydrophobic molecules
  • Central core of glycerol
  • Bound to up to 3 fatty acid chains
  • They exhibit a high number of C-H bonds – therefore much energy and non-polar
  • When placed in water, lipids spontaneously cluster together
  • They help organize the interior content of cells  “phospholipids”
glycerol and fatty acid chains
Glycerol and fatty acid chains

What specific bonds form between glycerol and each fatty acid chain?

Would you think this to be an hydrolysis or a dehydration synthesis rxn?

saturated and unsaturated fats
Saturated and unsaturated fats

The difference resides in the number of H’s attached to C’s in the fatty acid chains; the amount of “saturation” on the C’s

saturated vs unsaturated fats and diet
Saturated vs unsaturated fats and diet
  • Saturated fats raise LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood (animal fats, dairy, coconut oil, cocoa butter)
  • Polyunsaturated fats leave LDL-cholesterol unchanged; but lower HDL-cholesterol (safflower and corn oil)
  • Monounsaturated fats leave LDL and HDL levels unchanged (olive oil, canola, peanut oil, avocados)
  • One variety of polyunsaturated fat (Omega-3 fatty acids) guards against blood clot formation and reduce fat levels in the blood (certain fish, walnuts, almonds, and tofu)
phospholipids and cell membranes
Phospholipids and cell membranes
  • P-lipids make up the majority of cell membranes including:
    • The plasma membrane
    • Nuclear envelope
    • Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)
    • Golgi apparatus
    • Membrane-bound vesicles
structure of single p lipid
Structure of single P-lipid

The 3 C’s of glycerol are bound to:

2 fatty acid chains


cell environment organizes p lipid bilayer to proper orientation
Cell environment organizes P-lipid bilayer to proper orientation

Hydrophilic (polar) “heads” of P-lipid oriented to the exterior; hydrophobic (non-polar) “tails” oriented to the interior