Why It Matters: Important Biological Macromolecules

Why identify and describe the main features of the four main classes of important biological macromolecules?

Fad diets: we’ve all heard about them and maybe followed one or two in our lives. These diets have strict rules, and often have restrictions on eating a certain thing like fats or carbs (carbohydrates).

There are several things to critically consider about this type of diet. First off, is it even possible for a person to cut all carbs out of his or her diet? More importantly, is it actually healthy to remove an entire class of molecules from the diet? Fats aren’t really important right? Certainly cholesterol is bad—right?

Before you decide to swear off carbs or fats, you should know that these types of foods are named after the kind of molecules that build them. Then you should learn what they actually do in cells.

Biological macromolecules are large molecules, necessary for life, that are built from smaller organic molecules. There are four major classes of biological macromolecules: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids (found in DNA and RNA). We’ll discuss each class and how they compare to each other.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the structure and function of proteins
  • Illustrate different types of lipids and relate their structure to their role in biological systems
  • Summarize the roles carbohydrates play in biological systems
  • Discuss nucleic acids and the role they play in DNA and RNA
  • Discuss macromolecules and the differences between the four classes

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