9.3 Biomacromolecules

There is one feature common to all those compounds found in the acid soluble pool. They have molecular weights ranging from 18 to around 800 daltons (Da) approximately.

The acid insoluble fraction, has only four types of organic compounds i.e., proteins, nucleic acids, polysaccharides and lipids.

These classes of compounds with the exception of lipids, have molecular weights in the range of ten thousand daltons and above. For this very reason, biomolecules, i.e., chemical compounds found in living organisms are of two types.

One, those which have molecular weights less than one thousand dalton and are usually referred to as micromolecules or simply biomolecules while those which are found in the acid insoluble fraction are called macromolecules or biomacromolecules. The molecules in the insoluble fraction with the exception of lipids are polymeric substances.

Then why do lipids, whose molecular weights do not exceed 800 Da, come under acid insoluble fraction, i.e., macromolecular fraction? Lipids are indeed small molecular weight compounds and are present not only as such but also arranged into structures like cell membrane and other membranes. When we grind a tissue, we are disrupting the cell structure.

Cell membrane and other membranes are broken into pieces, and form vesicles which are not water soluble. Therefore, these membrane fragments in the form of vesicles get separated along with the acid insoluble pool and hence in the macromolecular fraction.

Lipids are not strictly macromolecules. The acid soluble pool represents roughly the cytoplasmic composition. The macromolecules from cytoplasm and organelles become the acid insoluble fraction. Together they represent the entire chemical composition of living tissues or organisms. In summary if we represent the chemical composition of living tissue from abundance point of view and arrange them class-wise, we observe that water is the most abundant chemical in living organisms.

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