Module 2 – Life’s Components: Biological Macromolecules


Your work in this module will be dedicated to exploring 4 important organic macromolecules. These 4 macromolecules (proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids) make up 96% of your body mass. At the cellular level, these molecules play critical roles in the structure and the overall function of the cell. As mentioned in Module 1, this is a building course, so you want to bring what you learned in Module 2 (the chemistry of life) to your work on this module. Understanding the chemical nature of the subunits, or monomers, that make up these polymers, is essential to understanding their “work” at the cellular level.

A central theme in biology, and science in general, is “structure equals function”. In other words, organisms, environments, and molecules work the way they do (function) because of how they are built (their structure/ their chemical make-up). This module is an excellent example of this concept in that many of the large, organic molecules we will discuss; carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids, are all critical to the general function of your body and what allows for their respective functions is 100% a result of their structure. Please review the examples of large, organic molecules discussed in the text. 1

Learning Outcomes

This module addresses the following Course Learning Outcomes listed in the Syllabus for this course:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of biological principles.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of scientific method.
  • Communicate scientific ideas through oral or written assignments.
  • Interpret scientific models such as formulas, graphs and tables.
  • Demonstrate problem solving methods in situations that are encountered outside of the classroom. 1

Module Objectives

Upon completion of this module, the student will be able to:

  • State the definitions of polymers and monomers and describe the general way in which they are synthesized and broken down.
  • For each of the large, organic molecules covered in this module (carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids (for which you will further break down into fats and oils, phospholipids, and steroids)), describe the following:
    • the general chemical make-up of each
    • the monomers or repeating units of which they are composed
    • the functions of each
    • give examples of each 1