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Organic Compounds
The chemical compounds of living things are known as organic compounds because of their association with organisms. Organic compounds, which are the compounds associated with life processes, are the subject matter of organic chemistry. Among the numerous types of organic compounds, four major categories are found in all living things: carbohydrates, lipids, protein, and nucleic acids.

Almost all organisms use carbohydrates as sources of energy. In addition, some carbohydrates serve as structural materials. Carbohydrates are molecules composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; the ratio of hydrogen atoms to oxygen atoms is 2:1. Simple carbohydrates, commonly referred to as sugars, can be monosaccharides if they are composed of single molecules, or disaccharides if they are composed of two molecules. The most important monosaccharide is glucose, a carbohydrate with the molecular formula C6H12O6. Glucose is the basic form of fuel in living things. It is soluble and is transported by body fluids to all cells, where it is metabolized to release its energy. Glucose is the starting material for cellular respiration, and it is the main product of photosynthesis. Three important disaccharides are also found in living things: maltose, sucrose, and lactose. Maltose is a combination of two glucose units covalently linked. The table sugar sucrose is formed by linking glucose to another monosaccharide calledfructose. (Figure 1 shows that in the synthesis of sucrose, a water molecule is produced. The process is therefore called a dehydration. The reversal of the process is hydrolysis, a process in which the molecule is split and the elements of water are added.) Lactose is composed of glucose and galactose units.

Figure 1

Glucose and fructose molecules combine to form the disaccharide sucrose.

Complex carbohydrates are known as polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are formed by linking innumerable monosaccharides. Among the most important polysaccharides are the starches, which are composed of hundreds or thousands of glucose units linked to one another. Starches serve as a storage form for carbohydrates. Much of the world's human population satisfies its energy needs with the starches of rice, wheat, corn, and potatoes. Two other important polysaccharides are glycogen and cellulose. Glycogen is also composed of thousands of glucose units, but the units are bonded in a different pattern than in starches. Glycogen is the form in which glucose is stored in the human liver. Cellulose is used primarily as a structural carbohydrate. It is also composed of glucose units, but the units cannot be released from one another except by a few species of organisms. Wood is composed chiefly of cellulose, as are plant cell walls. Cotton fabric and paper are commercial cellulose products.

Lipids are organic molecules composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. The ratio of hydrogen atoms to oxygen atoms is much higher in lipids than in carbohydrates. Lipids include steroids (the material of which many hormones are composed), waxes, and fats. Fat molecules are composed of a glycerol molecule and one, two, or three molecules of fatty acids (see Figure 2 ). A glycerol molecule contains three hydroxyl (OH) groups. A fatty acid is a long chain of carbon atoms (from 4 to 24) with a carboxyl (COOH) group at one end. The fatty acids in a fat may be all alike or they may all be different. They are bound to the glycerol molecule by a process that involves the removal of water.

Figure 2

A fat molecule is constructed by combining a glycerol molecule with three fatty acid molecules. (Two saturated and one unsaturated fatty acids are shown for comparison.) The constructed molecule is at the bottom.

Certain fatty acids have one or more double bonds in their molecules. Fats that include these molecules are unsaturated fats. Other fatty acids have no double bonds. Fats that

include these fatty acids are saturated fats. In most human health situations, the consumption of unsaturated fats is preferred to the consumption of saturated fats. Fats stored in cells usually form clear oil droplets called globules because fats do not dissolve in water. Plants often store fats in their seeds, and animals store fats in large, clear globules in the cells of adipose tissue. The fats in adipose tissue contain much concentrated energy. Hence, they serve as a reserve energy supply to the organism. The enzyme lipase breaks down fats into fatty acids and glycerol in the human digestive system.

Proteins, among the most complex of all organic compounds, are composed ofamino acids (see Figure 3 ), which contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms. Certain amino acids also have sulfur atoms, phosphorous, or other trace elements such as iron or copper.

Figure 3

The structure and chemistry of amino acids. When two amino acids are joined in a dipeptide, the OH of one amino acid is removed, and the H of the second is removed. A dipeptide bond (right) forms to join the amino acids together.

Many proteins are immense in size and extremely complex. However, all proteins are composed of long chains of relatively simple amino acids. There are 20 kinds of amino acids. Each amino acid (see the left illustration in Figure 3 ) has an amino (NH2) group, a carboxyl (COOH) group, and a group of atoms called an R group (where R stands for radical). The amino acids differ depending on the nature of the R group, as shown in the middle illustration of Figure 3 . Examples of amino acids are alanine, valine, glutamic acid, tryptophan, tyrosine, and histidine.

The removal of water molecules links amino acids to form a protein. The process is called dehydration synthesis, and a byproduct of the synthesis is water. The links forged between the amino acids are peptide bonds, and small proteins are often called peptides. All living things depend on proteins for their existence. Proteins are the major molecules from which living things are constructed. Certain proteins are dissolved or suspended in the watery substance of the cells, while others are incorporated into various structures of the cells. Proteins are also found as supporting and strengthening materials in tissues outside of cells. Bone, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments are all composed of protein. One essential use of proteins is in the construction of enzymes. Enzymes catalyze the chemical reactions that take place within cells. They are not used up in a reaction; rather, they remain available to catalyze succeeding reactions. Every species manufactures proteins unique to that species. The information for synthesizing the unique proteins is located in the nucleus of the cell. The socalledgenetic code specifies the amino acid sequence in proteins. Hence, the genetic code regulates the chemistry taking place within a cell. Proteins also can serve as a reserve source of energy for the cell. When the amino group is removed from an amino acid, the resulting compound is energy rich.

Nucleic acids
Like proteins, nucleic acids are very large molecules. The nucleic acids are composed of smaller units called nucleotides. Each nucleotide contains a carbohydrate molecule, a phosphate group, and a nitrogen-containing molecule that because of its properties is a nitrogenous base. Living organisms have two important nucleic acids. One type is deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. The other is ribonucleic acid, or RNA. DNA is found primarily in the nucleus of the cell, while RNA is found in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm, a semi-liquid substance that composes the foundation of the cell. DNA and RNA differ from one another in their components. DNA contains the carbohydrate deoxyribose, while RNA has ribose. In addition, DNA contains the base thymine, while RNA has uracil.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

3D structure of cellulose, a beta-glucanpolysaccharide.

Polysaccharides are polymeric carbohydrate structures, formed of repeating units (either mono- or disaccharides) joined together by glycosidic bonds. These structures are often linear, but may contain various degrees of branching. Polysaccharides are often quite heterogeneous, containing slight modifications of the repeating unit. Depending on the structure, these macromolecules can have distinct properties from their monosaccharide building blocks. They may be amorphous or even insoluble in water.[1][2] When all the monosaccharides in a polysaccharide are the same type the polysaccharide is called a homopolysaccharide or homoglycan, but when more than one type of monosaccharide is present they are called heteropolysaccharides or heteroglycans. [3][4] Examples include storage polysaccharides such as starch and glycogen, and structural polysaccharides such as cellulose and chitin. Polysaccharides have a general formula of Cx(H2O)y where x is usually a large number between 200 and 2500. Considering that the repeating units in the polymer backbone are often six-carbon monosaccharides, the general formula can also be represented as (C6H10O5)n where 40n3000.

o o o o o o o

1 Storage polysaccharides 1.1 Starches 1.2 Glycogen 2 Structural polysaccharides 2.1 Arabinoxylans 2.2 Cellulose 2.3 Chitin 2.4 Pectins 3 Acidic polysaccharides 4 Bacterial polysaccharides 4.1 Bacterial capsular

polysaccharides 5 See also 6 References 7 Literature 8 External links

[edit]Storage [edit]Starches


Starches are glucose polymers in which glucopyranose units are bonded by alpha-linkages. It is made up of a mixture of Amylose (1520%) and Amylopectin (8085%). Amylose consists of a linear chain of several hundred glucose molecules and Amylopectin is a branched molecule made of several thousand glucose units (every chain 2430 glucose unit). Starches are insoluble in water. They can be digested by hydrolysis, catalyzed by enzymes called amylases, which can break the alpha-linkages (glycosidic bonds). Humans and other animals have amylases, so they can digest starches. Potato, rice, wheat, and maize are major sources of starch in the human diet. The formation of starches are the way that plants store glucose.



Glycogen is a polysaccharide that is found in animals and is composed of a branched chain of glucose residues. It is stored in liver and muscles. It is a reserve food of animals. It is chief form of carbohydrate stored in animal body. It is insoluble in water.It gives red colour with iodine. It also yields glucose on hydrolysis.



Arabinoxylans are found in both the primary and secondary cell walls of plants and are the copolymers of two pentose sugars: arabinose and xylose.

The structural component of plants are formed primarily from cellulose. Wood is largely cellulose andlignin, while paper and cotton are nearly pure cellulose. Cellulose is a polymer made with repeated glucose units bonded together bybeta-linkages. Humans and many other animals lack an enzyme to break the beta-linkages, so they do not digest cellulose. Certain animals can digest cellulose, because bacteria possessing the enzyme are present in their gut. The classic example is the termite.It is insoluble in water.It gives no color with iodine.On hydrolysis,it yields glucose.It is most abundant carbohydrate in nature.

Chitin is one of many naturally occurring polymers. It is one of the most abundant natural materials in the world. Over time it is bio-degradable in the natural environment. Its breakdown may be catalyzed by enzymes called chitinases, secreted by microorganisms such as bacteriaand fungi, and produced by some plants. Some of these microorganisms have receptors to simple sugars from the decomposition of chitin. If

chitin is detected, they then produce enzymes to digest it by cleaving the glycosidic bonds in order to convert it to simple sugars andammonia. Chemically, chitin is closely related to chitosan (a more water-soluble derivative of chitin). It is also closely related to cellulose in that it is a long unbranched chain of glucose derivatives. Both materials contribute structure and strength, protecting the organism.

Pectins are a family of complex polysaccharides that contain 1,4-linked -D-galactosyluronic acid residues. They are present in most primary cell walls and in the non-woody parts of terrestrial plants.



Acidic polysaccharides are polysaccharides that contain carboxyl groups, phosphate groups and/or sulfuric ester groups.



Bacterial polysaccharides represent a diverse range of macromolecules that include peptidoglycan, lipopolysaccharides, capsules andexopolysaccharides; compounds whose functions range from structural cell-wall components (e.g. peptidoglycan), and important virulence factors (e.g. Poly-Nacetylglucosamine in S. aureus), to permitting the bacterium to survive in harsh environments (e.g. Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the human lung).[5] Polysaccharide biosynthesis is a tightly regulated, energy-intensive process and understanding the subtle interplay between the regulation and energy conservation, polymer modification and synthesis, and the external ecological functions is a huge area of research. The potential benefits are enormous and should enable for example the development of novel antibacterial strategies (e.g. new antibiotics and vaccines) and the commercial exploitation to develop novel applications.[6][7]


capsular polysaccharides

Pathogenic bacteria commonly produce a thick, mucous-like, layer of polysaccharide. This "capsule" cloaks antigenic proteins on the bacterial surface that would otherwise provoke an immune response and thereby lead to the destruction of the bacteria. Capsular polysaccharides are water soluble, commonly acidic, and have molecular weights on the order of 100-1000 kDa. They are linear and consist of regularly repeating subunits of one to six monosaccharides. There is enormous structural diversity; nearly two hundred different polysaccharides are produced by E. coli alone. Mixtures of capsular polysaccharides, either conjugated or native are used as vaccines. Bacteria and many other microbes, including fungi and algae, often secrete polysaccharides as an evolutionary adaptation to help them adhere to surfaces and to prevent them from drying out. Humans have developed

some of these polysaccharides into useful products, including xanthan gum, dextran, welan gum, gellan gum, diutan gum and pullulan. Most of these polysaccharides exhibit interesting and very useful visco-elastic properties when dissolved in water at very low levels.[8] This gives many foods and various liquid consumer products, like lotions, cleaners and paints, for example, a viscous appearance when stationary, but fluidity when the slightest shear is applied, such as when wiped, poured or brushed. This property is referred to as pseudoplasticity, or shear thinning.

Viscosity of Welan gum

Shear Rate (rpm)

Viscosity (cP)

















Aqueous solutions of the polysaccharide alone have a curious behavior when stirred. After stopping, the swirl continues due to momentum, then stops, and then reverses direction briefly. This recoil demonstrates the elastic effect of the polysaccharide chains previously streched in solution, returning to their relaxed state. Cell-surface polysaccharides play diverse roles in bacterial ecology and physiology. They serve as a barrier between the cell wall and the environment, mediate host-pathogen interactions, and form structural components of biofilms. These polysaccharides are synthesized fromnucleotide-activated precursors (called nucleotide sugars) and, in most cases, all the enzymes necessary for biosynthesis, assembly and transport of the completed polymer are encoded by genes organized in dedicated clusters within the genome of the organism.Lipopolysaccharide is one of the most important cell-surface polysaccharides, as it plays a key structural role in outer membrane integrity, as well as being an important mediator of host-pathogen interactions. The enzymes that make the A-band (homopolymeric) and B-band (heteropolymeric) O-antigens have been identified and the metabolic pathways defined.[9] The exopolysaccharide alginate is a linear copolymer of -1,4linked D-mannuronic acid and L-guluronic acid residues, and is responsible for the mucoid phenotype of latestage cystic fibrosis disease. The pel and psl loci are two recently discovered gene clusters that also encode exopolysaccharides found to be important for biofilm formation. Rhamnolipid is a biosurfactant whose production is tightly regulated at the transcriptional level, but the precise role that it plays in disease is not well understood at present. Protein glycosylation, particularly of pilin and flagellin, is a recent focus of research by several groups and it has been shown to be important for adhesion and invasion during bacterial infection.[10]