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Which elements are present in each type of molecule?

Start by filling in the table, writing “Always,” “Sometimes,” or “Never” in each box.

Carbon Hydrogen Nitrogen Oxygen Phosphorus Sulfur


Always Never
Proteins Always
Always Always Sometimes

Always Always Never Always Never Never


Always Always Always Always Always

Nucleic Acids Never

Always Always Never

Lipids Always Never Never
Proteins Carbohydrates Nucleic Acids Lipids
Proteins Carbohydrates Nucleic Acids Lipids
Proteins are molecules that play many important roles in the body, including muscle structure, hormones,
antibodies to neutralize pathogens, hemoglobin for carrying oxygen, transport proteins for moving
molecules across cell membranes, chemical messengers in the nervous system, and many, many more.
What is the monomer of a protein called?

Figure 1 shows a “generic” amino acid, or one that doesn’t have a side chain, or “R group.”  Two amino
acids are joined by dehydration synthesis reactions to form a dipeptide; when three or more amino acids
are joined, they are referred to as a polypeptide. Once a polypeptide has folded into a functional
conformation (shape) it is referred to as a protein. When amino acids are joined together, the “-N-C-C-“ in
the center of the molecule is known as its backbone and is a defining feature of amino acids.  A typical
protein chain may contain 150 – 1000 or more amino acids.  There are 20 common amino acids that are
used to build protein molecules.  Cells string amino acids together end-to-end as shown in Figure 2.
Carbohydrates are also versatile molecules that store energy and provide structure to organisms. You may have
heard of simple carbohydrates, sugar, or complex carbohydrates, such a fiber. Sugars occur as ring structures. 

There are monosaccharides (single rings), disaccharides (double rings), and larger structures called polysaccharides. 
In solution, single rings can dynamically change from straight chains to rings and back to straight chains.  A straight
chain sugar is shown below.  Notice that every carbon has an oxygen atom attached to it.

Sugars can be joined together in long chains to form

macromolecules called starch, cellulose, and glycogen. A
plant’s starch and an animal’s glycogen are easily broken
down into sugars for energy.  Cellulose, on the other hand,
which is made primarily in plants, can be broken down
only by a few organisms in the world – primarily the
bacteria in the guts of termites.  Yet all three types of
macromolecules are made of long chains of
monosaccharides, and cellulose differs only by a small
change in the connecting bond between each pair of
Using the shift button, select all the carbohydrate carbs from the previous slide and copy and paste here. You will sort them by
type: monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides.

Monosaccharides Disaccharides Polysaccharides

DO THIS! , are they

polar or nonpolar?

They are all polar because they have hydrogen to

oxygen or carbon-oxygen bonds. This creates partial
negatives and positives, making the molecules polar.
Lipids are a diverse group of molecules that share one important trait: they are hydrophobic. 
Lipids are most easily recognized by having lots of hydrocarbons, which contain non-polar
covalent bonds. Lipids may have a few polar bonds associated with oxygen, depending on the
specific molecule, but on the whole lipids consist mostly of hydrocarbons.

Lipids vary widely in both form and function and include things like waxes and pigments. In
this activity we’ll focus on fats, phospholipids, and steroids.

First, ensure you have all of the lipid cards – there are 8 of them.  Look for molecules that
have long chains or rings of hydrocarbons.

Steroids are one type of molecule in the class of compounds

known as lipids.  Cholesterol, shown at the right, is a steroid,
and plays an important role in membrane formation.  Steroids
can be recognized by their multiple rings of carbon atoms
connected together. 

Find another steroid paste a

picture and take a screen shot.
How do you recognize it’s a lipid?
Identify its properties.

I recognize that it is a lipid because it has carbon,

hydrogen, and oxygen. I also know it is a lipid because
it has little oxygen in relation to Hydrogen and Carbon
making it a non-polar molecule due to the numerous
covalent bonds.
Nucleic Acids
   Through a process called cellular respiration, glucose is broken down and the
terminal phosphates that were removed are added back on to ADP, so these
molecules are continuously recycled by the cell.  While nucleotides that are
free floating in the cell’s cytoplasm typically consist of three phosphate
groups, when each is added to a growing molecule of DNA or RNA, the end
two phosphate groups are removed by dehydration synthesis, leaving only
one phosphate group. Which of your cards contains a molecule that looks like
On the molecule of a different nucleotide to DO THIS. FINS A NUCLEOTIDE
the right, label the phosphate, pentose, and AND PASTE IT: Label all parts!

nitrogenous base. The single pentose sugar

and the single phosphate group on each
Nitrogenous Base
nucleotide join with others to form a sugar-
phosphate backbone of a molecule, with the Phosphate Group
nitrogenous bases on the interior of the Pentose Sugar