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Macromolecule

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Definition

noun, plural: macromolecules

A large complex molecule, such as nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids, with relatively large molecular weight


Supplement

Hermann Staudinger, a German organic chemist, coined the term macromolecule in 1920s. In biology, a macromolecule is a term used to contrast a micromolecule (which is smaller in size and in molecular weight). In chemistry, though, a macromolecule is an aggregate of two or more molecules held by intermolecular forces and do not readily dissociate. Conversely, a macromolecule in biological context pertains to the four major classes of biomolecules, such as nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipis. In this regard, macromolecules are regarded as large biological polymers. They are made up of small monomers linked together. The monomers, in turn, exemplify micromolecules. The monomeric units link together and form a large macromolecule, or in this sense, a polymer. Nevertheless, a macromolecule in a stricter sense may be interpreted as different from a polymer in a way that the former is concerned chiefly with the molecular size. Macromolecules may assemble and join together to form larger complexes, which are crucial in various biological activities.


Word origin: macro- ("large") + molecule

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Related form(s):

  • macromolecular (adjective, of, pertaining to, relating to, or characterizing a macromolecule)