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Macromolecule Definition and Types

A macromolecule can be defined as a large complex molecule that has a relatively large molecular weight. Common macromolecules include carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids.

Macromolecules are formed by the polymerization of smaller subunits known as monomers. Hence, we can also call macromolecules polymers. They play an important role in the proper functioning of an organism. The monomer units of a macromolecule are polar in nature.

Macromolecules are fundamentally long chains of atomic subunits called monomers. For example, starches, proteins and nucleic acids are found as long polymers. Because of their polymeric nature and huge size, they are known as macromolecules.

Types of Macromolecules

There are four main types of macromolecules found in our body:

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Lipids
  3. Proteins
  4. Nucleic acids

1. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are macromolecules that are mainly made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. They can be found in fruits, milk, vegetables, and sugars. They constitute a major part of the human diet. Carbohydrates can further be divided into three types:

  • Monosaccharides:

    These are the simplest carbohydrates as they comprise only one monomer unit. The number of carbon atoms in their structure ranges from three to seven. The most common monosaccharide is glucose. They exist either as linear chains or as ring-shaped molecules.

    They are also called simple sugars. Some other types of monosaccharides are fructose and galactose. Glucose is one of the most common monosaccharides and a significant source of energy. During cellular respiration, energy is derived from glucose; this energy is utilized to make ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

  • Disaccharides:

    Disaccharides are the carbohydrates that produce two molecules of monosaccharides upon hydrolysis with acids or enzymes. The monosaccharide units formed can either be of the same molecule or two different molecules.

    The most common types of disaccharides are sucrose, lactose, and maltose. These are called the digestible disaccharides present in food. They are formed by a condensation reaction between two molecules of either the same or different monosaccharides with the elimination of a water molecule.

  • Polysaccharides:

    Polysaccharides are polymers of monosaccharides. This means that polysaccharides contain two or more monosaccharides connected together to form a long chain. Starch is the best example of a polysaccharide. Other examples include glycogen, cellulose, and chitin.

2. Lipids

Lipids are the types of macromolecules that are hydrophobic in nature, i.e., they are insoluble in water. Lipids are used in the formation of cell membranes, production of hormones and can also be stored and used as fuel. The common lipids are steroids, phospholipids, carotenoids and triglycerides. Lipids are also called fatty acids. They are of two types:

  • Unsaturated fatty acids: These types of fatty acids contain one or more carbon double bonds that are formed by the removal of hydrogen atoms from the carbon skeleton.
  • Saturated fatty acid: Straight-chained fatty acids that are solid at room temperature. Animal fats are usually saturated.

3. Proteins

The polymerization of amino acids forms proteins. Here, amino acids are the monomers of proteins. They contain a carboxyl and amino group, which differentiates them from the other macromolecules. Proteins play a very important role in the production of carbohydrates and lipids. This is because the enzymes used in the synthesis of carbohydrates and lipids are nothing but proteins.

4. Nucleic Acids

Deoxyribonucleic acid and Ribonucleic acid are the two major types of nucleic acids. They are the polymers of nucleotides. Nucleotides are made up of a phosphate group, a pentose sugar, and a nitrogenous base. The nitrogenous bases present in DNA include adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine, whereas, in RNA instead of cytosine, uracil is present. All the genetic information of a cell can be found in DNA.

Applications of Macromolecules

Macromolecule

A macromolecule can be defined as a large complex molecule that has a relatively large molecular weight. Common macromolecules include carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids.

Macromolecules are formed by the polymerization of smaller subunits known as monomers. Hence, we can also call macromolecules polymers. They play an important role in the proper functioning of an organism. The monomer units of a macromolecule are polar in nature.

Macromolecules are fundamentally long chains of atomic subunits called monomers. For example, starches, proteins and nucleic acids are found as long polymers. Because of their polymeric nature and huge size, they are known as macromolecules.

Types of Macromolecules

There are four main types of macromolecules found in our body:

1. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are macromolecules that are mainly made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. They can be found in fruits, milk, vegetables, and sugars. They constitute a major part of the human diet. Carbohydrates can further be divided into three types:

2. Lipids

Lipids are the types of macromolecules that are hydrophobic in nature, i.e., they are insoluble in water. Lipids are used in the formation of cell membranes, production of hormones and can also be stored and used as fuel. The common lipids are steroids, phospholipids, carotenoids and triglycerides. Lipids are also called fatty acids. They are of two types:

3. Proteins

The polymerization of amino acids forms proteins. Here, amino acids are the monomers of proteins. They contain a carboxyl and amino group, which differentiates them from the other macromolecules. Proteins play a very important role in the production of carbohydrates and lipids. This is because the enzymes used in the synthesis of carbohydrates and lipids are nothing but proteins.

4. Nucleic Acids

Deoxyribonucleic acid and Ribonucleic acid are the two major types of nucleic acids. They are the polymers of nucleotides. Nucleotides are made up of a phosphate group, a pentose sugar, and a nitrogenous base. The nitrogenous bases present in DNA include adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine, whereas, in RNA instead of cytosine, uracil is present. All the genetic information of a cell can be found in DNA.

Applications of Macromolecules

  • Carbohydrates and Lipids are the major sources of energy in the human body. At the same time, proteins are involved in the wear and tear mechanism of the body.
  • Cellulose, a plant polymer, provides structural integrity to the cell.
  • Glycogen and Starch are the storage forms of the macromolecule carbohydrates and lipids.
    1. Carbohydrates
    2. Lipids
    3. Proteins
    4. Nucleic acids
    • Monosaccharides:

      These are the simplest carbohydrates as they comprise only one monomer unit. The number of carbon atoms in their structure ranges from three to seven. The most common monosaccharide is glucose. They exist either as linear chains or as ring-shaped molecules.

      They are also called simple sugars. Some other types of monosaccharides are fructose and galactose. Glucose is one of the most common monosaccharides and a significant source of energy. During cellular respiration, energy is derived from glucose; this energy is utilized to make ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

    • Disaccharides:

      Disaccharides are the carbohydrates that produce two molecules of monosaccharides upon hydrolysis with acids or enzymes. The monosaccharide units formed can either be of the same molecule or two different molecules.

      The most common types of disaccharides are sucrose, lactose, and maltose. These are called the digestible disaccharides present in food. They are formed by a condensation reaction between two molecules of either the same or different monosaccharides with the elimination of a water molecule.

    • Polysaccharides:

      Polysaccharides are polymers of monosaccharides. This means that polysaccharides contain two or more monosaccharides connected together to form a long chain. Starch is the best example of a polysaccharide. Other examples include glycogen, cellulose, and chitin.
    • Unsaturated fatty acids: These types of fatty acids contain one or more carbon double bonds that are formed by the removal of hydrogen atoms from the carbon skeleton.
    • Saturated fatty acid: Straight-chained fatty acids that are solid at room temperature. Animal fats are usually saturated.
    • Carbohydrates and Lipids are the major sources of energy in the human body. At the same time, proteins are involved in the wear and tear mechanism of the body.
    • Cellulose, a plant polymer, provides structural integrity to the cell.
    • Glycogen and Starch are the storage forms of the macromolecule carbohydrates and lipids.
    • Cellulose, a plant polymer, provides structural integrity to the cell.
    • DNA and RNA are important materials in transferring genetic material across different generations. DNA is transferred to the daughter cells by the process of mitosis or meiosis.
    • The enzyme ribozyme used in biological systems is composed of the macromolecule RNA.
  • Cellulose, a plant polymer, provides structural integrity to the cell.
  • DNA and RNA are important materials in transferring genetic material across different generations. DNA is transferred to the daughter cells by the process of mitosis or meiosis.
  • The enzyme ribozyme used in biological systems is composed of the macromolecule RNA.
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