Understanding Carbon-Based Molecules in Living Things

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  • Many carbon-based molecules are made of many small subunits bonded together.
  • Monomers are the individual subunits.
  • Polymers are made of many monomers.
  • Four main types of carbon-based molecules are found in living things.
  • Carbohydrates are made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Include sugars and starches. Carbohydrates can be broken down to provide energy for cells. Some carbohydrates are part of cell structure.
  • Monosaccharides are simple sugars.
  • Polysaccharides include starches, cellulose, and glycogen.
  • Polymer (starch)
  • Starch is a polymer of glucose monomers that often has a branched structure.
  • Polymer (cellulose)
  • Cellulose is a polymer of glucose monomers that has a straight, rigid structure
  • Many contain carbon chains called fatty acids.
  • Fats and oils contain fatty acids bonded to glycerol. Fats and oils have different types of fatty acids.
    • saturated fatty acids: From a chemical standpoint, saturated fats are simply fat molecules that have no double bonds between carbon molecules because they are saturated with hydrogen molecules. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature.
    • unsaturated fatty acids: An unsaturated fat is fatty acid in which there is at least one double bond within the fatty acid chain.
  • Lipids are nonpolar molecules that include fats, oils, and cholesterol.
  • Lipids have several different functions.
    • broken down as a source of energy
    • make up cell membranes used to make hormones
  • Phospholipids make up all cell membranes.
    • Polar phosphate “head”
    • Nonpolar fatty acid “tails”
  • Proteins are polymers of amino acid monomers.
    • Twenty different amino acids are used to build proteins in organisms. Proteins differ in the number and order of amino acids
    • Amino acids differ in side groups, or R groups.
    • Amino acids are linked by peptide bonds. Amino acids interact to give a protein its shape.
    • Incorrect amino acids change a protein’s structure and function.
  • Nucleic acids are polymers of monomers called nucleotides.
    • Nucleotides are made of a sugar, phosphate group, and a nitrogen base. A phosphate groupnitrogen-containing molecule, called a base deoxyribose (sugar)
    • DNA stores genetic information.
    • RNA builds proteins.

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