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MOLECULAR LOGIC OF LIFE Everything that living things do can be understood in terms of the jigglings and wigglings of atoms.

Richard Feynman Living Matter Structurally complex and highly organized Biological structures serve specific purposes Actively engaged in energy transformations Inanimate matter Mixtures of relatively simple chemical compounds

Do not use energy in a systematic way to maintain structure or do work. In totality, inanimate matter move to a condition of increasing disorder or maximum entropy. Show no capacity to reproduce in forms identical in mass, shape and structure, generation after generation.

Replicate themselves with perfect fidelity.

Biomolecules conform to the chemical and physical principles that govern all matter. But these molecules also interact with each other in accordance with another set of principles which we refer to as the molecular logic of life. These are a set of ground rules that govern and characterize the nature, function and interaction of biomolecules.

All living cells have the same kinds of monomeric subunits. There are underlying patterns in the structure of biological The identity of each species of organism in preserved by its possession
of characteristic sets of nucleic acids and proteins. macromolecules.

Living organisms create and maintain their complex, orderly structures

at the expense of free energy from their environment. Exergonic chemical or photochemical reactions are coupled to endergonic processes through shared chemical intermediates, channeling the free energy to do work. In any physical or chemical change, the total amount of energy in the universe remains constant, although the form of the energy may change. Living cells are chemical engines that function at constant temperature. The energy needs of virtually all organisms are provided, directly or indirectly, by solar energy.

The flow of electrons in oxidation-reduction reactions underlies energy All living organisms are dependent on each other through exchanges of Living cells are self-regulating chemical engines, adjusted for
energy and matter via the environment. maximum economy. Genetic information is encoded in the linear sequence of four kinds of subunits of DNA. The double-helical DNA molecule contains an internal template for its own replication and repair. transduction and energy conservation of cells.

The linear sequence of amino acids in a protein leads to the acquisition

of a unique three-dimensional structure by a self-assembly process. Individual macromolecules with specific affinity for other macromolecules self-assemble into supramolecular complexes. Three-dimensional biological structures combine the properties of flexibility and stability.


Major chemical constituents Living matter is selective in its relationship to the environment. The chemical composition of living organisms are qualitatively different from the environment in which they live. C, H, O and N are the most common elements. Molecules are ordered into a hierarchy of increasing molecular complexity.

Precursors from the environment (H2O, CO2, NH3, N2) Metabolic intermediates (MW 50-250) Building blocks (MW 100-300) Macromolecules (MW 103 109) Supramolecular assemblies (MW 106 109) (e.g. ribosomes, enzyme complexes, contractile systems, cytoskeleton)

Organelles The cell

Prokaryotic cells

These cells have only a single membrane (the plasma or cell membrane), contain no nucleus or organelles, are produced largely by asexual division, were the first cells to arise in biological evolution. Major features include a nucleoid ( a nuclear area where a single circular chromosome is localized), ribosomes, storage granules, the cytosol

Eukaryotic cells

These are much greater in size, more complex, are more recent in evolutionary origin, contain a membrane-surrounded nucleus and are rich in internal membranes that are differentiated into specialized structures. These cells have a cytoskeleton composed of arrays of filaments that give the cell its shape and its capacity to move.

Summary of Organelles and their Functions

Organelle Nucleus synthesis Mitochondrion own DNA Chloroplast own DNA Endoplasmic reticulum Golgi apparatus proteins

Function location of main genome; site of most DNA and RNA site of energy-yielding oxidation reactions; has its site of photosynthesis in green plants and algae; has its continuous membrane throughout the cell; rough part studded with ribosomes (the site of protein synthesis) series of flattened membranes; involved in secretion of

from cells and reactions that link sugars to other cellular components Lysosomes Peroxisomes hydrogen Cell membrane contents in the cytosol Cell wall Central vacuole rigid exterior layer of plant cells membrane-bounded sac (plant cells) membrane-bounded sacs containing hydrolytic enzymes sacs that contain enzymes involved in the metabolism of peroxide separates the cell contents from the outside world; include organelles (held in place by the cytoskeleton) and