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was removed from the cells into the chemists' laboratories, to be studied there by the chemists' methods. It proved, too, that, apart from fermentation, combustion and respiration, the splitting up of protein substances, fats and carbohydrates, and many other similar reactions which characterise the living cell, could be imitated in the test tube without any cooperation at all from the cells, and that on the whole the same laws held for these reactions as for ordinary chemical processes.

—A. Tiselius, in presentation speech for the award of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to James B. Sumner, John H. Northrop, and Wendell M. Stanley, 1946

In 1897 Eduard Buchner, the German research worker, discovered that sugar can be made to ferment, not only with ordinary yeast, but also with the help of the expressed juices of yeast which contain none of the cells of the Saccharomyces ... Why was this apparently somewhat trivial experiment considered to be of such significance? The answer to this question is self-evident, if the development within the research work directed on the elucidation of the chemical nature of (life) is followed ... there, more than in most fields, a tendency has showed itself to consider the unexplained as inexplicable ... Thus ordinary yeast consists of living cells, and fermentation was considered by the majority of research workers—among them Pasteur-to be a manifestation of life, i.e. to be inextricably associated with the vital processes in these cells. Buchner's discovery showed that this was not the case. It may be said that thereby, at a blow, an important class of vital processes

The science of biochemistry can be dated to Eduard Buchner's pioneering discovery. His finding opened a world of chemistry that has inspired researchers for well over a century. Biochemistry is nothing less than the chemistry of life, and, yes, life can be investigated, analyzed, and understood. To begin, every student of biochemistry needs both a language and some fundamentals; these are provided in Part I.

The chapters of Part I are devoted to the structure and function of the major classes of cellular constituents: water (Chapter 2), amino acids and proteins (Chapters 3 through 6), sugars and polysaccharides (Chapter 7), nucleotides and nucleic acids (Chapter 8), fatty acids and lipids (Chapter 10), and, finally, membranes and membrane signaling proteins (Chapters 11 and 12). We supplement this discourse on molecules with information about the technologies used to study them. Some of the techniques sections are woven throughout the molecular descriptions, although one entire chapter (Chapter 9) is devoted to an integrated suite of modern advances in biotechnology that have greatly accelerated the pace of discovery.

The molecules found in a cell are a major part of the language of biochemistry; familiarity with them is a prerequisite for understanding more advanced topics covered in this book and for appreciating the rapidly growing and exciting literature of biochemistry. We begin with water because its properties affect the structure and function of all other cellular constituents. For each class of organic molecules, we first consider the covalent chemistry of the monomeric units (amino acids, monosaccharides, nucleotides, and fatty acids) and then describe the structure of the macromolecules and supramolecular complexes derived from them. An overriding theme is that the polymeric macromolecules in living systems, though large, are highly ordered chemical entities, with specific sequences of monomeric sub-units giving rise to discrete structures and functions. This fundamental theme can be broken down into three interrelated principles: (1) the unique structure of each macromolecule determines its function; (2) noncovalent interactions play a critical role in the structure and thus the function of macromolecules; and (3) the monomeric subunits in polymeric macromolecules occur in specific sequences, representing a form of information upon which the ordered living state depends.

The relationship between structure and function is especially evident in proteins, which exhibit an extraordinary diversity of functions. One particular polymeric sequence of amino acids produces a strong, fibrous structure found in hair and wool; another produces a protein that transports oxygen in the blood; a third binds other proteins and catalyzes the cleavage of the bonds between their amino acids. Similarly, the special functions of poly-saccharides, nucleic acids, and lipids can be understood as a direct manifestation of their chemical structure, with their characteristic monomeric subunits linked in precise functional polymers. Sugars linked together become energy stores, structural fibers, and points of specific molecular recognition; nucleotides strung together in DNA or RNA provide the blueprint for an entire organ ism; and aggregated lipids form membranes. Chapter 12 unifies the discussion of biomolecule function, describing how specific signaling systems regulate the activities of biomolecules—within a cell, within an organ, and among organs—to keep an organism in homeostasis.

As we move from monomeric units to larger and larger polymers, the chemical focus shifts from covalent bonds to noncovalent interactions. The properties of co-valent bonds, both in the monomeric subunits and in the bonds that connect them in polymers, place constraints on the shapes assumed by large molecules. It is the numerous noncovalent interactions, however, that dictate the stable native conformations of large molecules while permitting the flexibility necessary for their biological function. As we shall see, noncovalent interactions are essential to the catalytic power of enzymes, the critical interaction of complementary base pairs in nucleic acids, the arrangement and properties of lipids in membranes, and the interaction of a hormone or growth factor with its membrane receptor.

The principle that sequences of monomeric sub-units are rich in information emerges most fully in the discussion of nucleic acids (Chapter 8). However, proteins and some short polymers of sugars (oligosaccha-rides) are also information-rich molecules. The amino acid sequence is a form of information that directs the folding of the protein into its unique three-dimensional structure, and ultimately determines the function of the protein. Some oligosaccharides also have unique sequences and three-dimensional structures that are recognized by other macromolecules.

Each class of molecules has a similar structural hierarchy: subunits of fixed structure are connected by bonds of limited flexibility to form macromolecules with three-dimensional structures determined by noncova-lent interactions. These macromolecules then interact to form the supramolecular structures and organelles that allow a cell to carry out its many metabolic functions. Together, the molecules described in Part I are the stuff of life. We begin with water.

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