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Chapter 3 : Molecular Components of Cells

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Molecular Components of Cells, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

Cells contain many small molecules and ions, but their major structural and functional components are formed by four types of large molecules unique to living organisms: lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). This chapter provides an introduction to these molecules, and begins by laying some groundwork for discussing and drawing molecules, including defining some already-in-usage terms. DNA contains the genetic information of organisms. If DNA is thought as a library of instructions, then it’s clear that two different kinds of things have to happen to it during the life of an organism. First, the information encoded by its base sequence has to be translated into the actual ‘’stuff'' of an organism-its form and functions. Second, when a cell divides, the DNA has to be accurately copied so that the new cell can have its own instruction library. An organism’s structure and functions depend on the proteins present in its cells. The large molecules play similar roles in all cells. The similarity of cellular biochemistry is a manifestation of the relatedness of different kinds of cells and organisms-we are made of the same things and, at a cellular level, work in the same ways.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3

Key Concept Ranking

Immune System Proteins
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Plasma Membrane
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Outer Membrane Proteins
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Figures

Image of Figure 3.1
Figure 3.1

Examples of small molecules drawn in ball-and-stick style.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.2
Figure 3.2

Skeleton representations of molecules. Unlabeled corners are carbon atoms. Hydrogen atoms bound to carbon are usually not shown and are assumed to be present.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.3
Figure 3.3

Fats and oils are composed of a glycerol molecule joined to three fatty acids.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.4
Figure 3.4

Saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.5
Figure 3.5

A phospholipids. Phospholipids are major components of membranes. The charged phosphate group is hydrophilic, while the long fatty acid tails are hydrophobic.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.6
Figure 3.6

Cholesterol, a sterol lipid, is composed almost entirely of carbon and hydrogen.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.7
Figure 3.7

Examples of steroid hormones.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.8
Figure 3.8

Simple sugars can combine to make more complex sugars.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.9
Figure 3.9

Plants use the energy in sunlight to power the synthesis of glucose from carbon dioxide and water (photosynthesis).

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.10
Figure 3.10

Plants store glucose as starch.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.11
Figure 3.11

Carbohydrates on the outside of red blood cells determine A, B, O, and AB blood types.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.12
Figure 3.12

A receptor protein binds to a specific chemical signal and undergoes a change. The change triggers further reactions inside the cell, transmitting the signal from outside to inside.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.13
Figure 3.13

Amino acids have a hydrophilic backbone that can form chains and one of 20 different side chains that can be either hydrophobic or hydrophilic.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.14
Figure 3.14

A protein is a chain of amino acids that folds into a specific three-dimensional shape.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.15
Figure 3.15

A nucleotide, the building block of DNA, is composed of deoxyribose sugar, a phosphate group, and one of four bases.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.16
Figure 3.16

A free nucleotide can have one, two, or three phosphate groups.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.17
Figure 3.17

Nucleotides from chains through phosphodiester bonds between the phosphate group of number 5 carbon of one nucleotide and the OH group on the number 3 carbon of another.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.18
Figure 3.18

Complementary base pairs in DNA.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.19
Figure 3.19

DNA structure. () InDNA, two antiparallel nucleotide strands are held together by complementary base pairing. () DNA is a double helix with the base pairs on the inside like rungs of a ladder and the sugar-phosphate backbones spiraling around the outside of the molecule.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.20
Figure 3.20

DNA replication. () An existing strand of DNA is unzipped, and the exposed bases on each strand serve as a pattern, or template, to guide the synthesis of a new strand. () DNA replication results in two identical daughter molecules, each with one new and one old strand of nucleotides.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.21
Figure 3.21

Chemical differences between DNA and RNA. The sugar in the DNA nucleotide is deoxyribose. In RNA nucleotides, the sugar is ribose. (The arrows indicate the points of difference.) RNA contains the base uracil instead of thymine. (The yellow highlights indicate the points of difference.) Uracil can form a base pair with adenine, as thymine does.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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Image of Figure 3.22
Figure 3.22

Although RNA bases can form complementary pairs, RNA is usually single stranded.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
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References

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Tables

Generic image for table
Table 3.1

Different elements are made of atoms with various numbers of protons

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
Generic image for table
Table 3.2

Some biologically important ions

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
Generic image for table
Table 3.3

Chemical symbols for biologically important elements

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3
Generic image for table
Table 3.4

Subunits of biological molecules

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2005. Molecular Components of Cells, p 51-69. In Biology and Biotechnology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816094.ch3

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