The molecules of life – macromolecule analogies

This week you learned about the 4 types of biological macromolecules: lipids, carbohydrates, proteins and nucleic acids. In a nutshell, a macromolecule is a very large molecule consisting of many smaller structural units linked together (like how a train is made up multiple cars linked together). All biological macromolecules are made up of a small number of elements: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur. All cells and their organelles are made up of these four macromolecules and each type has its own specific properties and functions.

In your main post, in order to help you remember the different types of macromolecules and their general structure and function, I would like you to create 2 different types of analogies for each type of macromolecule (for a total of 8 analogies).

Create an analogy for the structure of the macromolecule (i.e. compare what the macromolecule physically looks like to something you can relate to – please see the picture below showing the structures of all 4 types of macromolecules). For example: proteins remind me of Christmas lights. The primary structure is when you pull the cord straight, and each light is an amino acid. The secondary structure is the zig-zagged shape the strand naturally takes. The tertiary structure forms when the holidays are over and you take your lights down and put them away. Let’s be honest shall we…none of us wind the lights back up in an orderly fashion, you just jumble it up and throw it in the box (it’ll be a problem for future you…). Finally, the quaternary structure is when that strand gets tangled up with the 10 other strands that you threw into the same box (or maybe you even threw in some ornaments or other decorations, and you swear that this year, you’ll put everything away properly…right…). Or nucleic acids are like a spiral staircase, where each rung is like a pair of joined nucleotides. Please note that you should have a total of 4 structural analogies – one for each type of macromolecule (carbohydrates, nucleic acids, proteins, lipids – you do NOT need to make multiple structural analogies if there is more than one variant of that particular macromolecule [i.e., you can make a structural analogy for just triglycerides or phospholipids or free fatty acids or cholesterol; you don’t need to do all 4]).

Create an analogy for the function of the macromolecule. For example: Macromolecules are like a family. The proteins are like the mother because she regulates the chores the kids have to do (i.e. like enzymes or regulatory proteins). Lipids are like the children because they have lots of energy (fats provide the highest concentration of energy of all nutrients). Carbohydrates are like the father because he pays the bills and keeps everything in order (carbohydrates are the primary source of ATP – the cell’s energy currency, and they are also an important structural component). Nucleic acids are like both the mother and the father because the children look like them (nucleic acids make up DNA and RNA – the hereditary material).

In your responses, first discuss whether or not your classmate’s analogies helped you to better visualize the macromolecules. Which was your favorite? Secondly, pick one of the 4 macromolecules and do some research and provide some additional interesting information about that macromolecule (outside of what you learned from your weekly reading). For example, are there any unique uses for any of these macromolecules (or are there any everyday products that contain this macromolecule that you were surprised by)? Is there some cool scientific research being done that uses one of these macromolecules? Etc.

As your responses will require outside research, please be sure to include a full reference list and in-text citations (in APA format) in this week’s responses. Please also note that your references do NOT count towards the minimum word count.

Be creative in your analogies! You can make them all the same theme or 8 completely different analogies.

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