The Molecular Basis of Life

Biological matter is comprised of small molecules (e.g., water), macromolecules (biopolymers), supramolecular assemblies or macromolecular complexes, which assemble into subcellular particles and cells, which in their turn form supracellular systems such as tissues and organs. One of the key ingredients of biological systems is represented by the complex, specific or non-specific, intra- and inter-molecular interactions, which determine the structure and, further, the biological functions associated to structure. Spatial packing or folding of macromolecules, such as proteins, nucleic acids or polysaccharides, is regulated by intramolecular interactions, which occur between segments of the same molecule. Equally important for the 3D structure of macromolecules are intermolecular interactions with solvent molecules (constituted by water molecules in biological systems), ions, and various small molecules from the cytosol (discussed in chapter 2). Intermolecular interactions between macromolecules are mostly conducive to formation of supramolecular structures such as protein complexes, which could be either transitory (e.g., binding of oxygen to hemoglobin) or permanent, relative to the lifespan of a cell or a superior organism (e.g., the tetrameric complex of hemoglobin).

There exists a wide variety of physical interactions relevant to the structure and function of biological systems: attractive or repulsive electrostatic interactions (e.g., charge-charge, charge-dipole, charge-multipole, dipole-multipole, etc.), attractive electrodynamic interactions, hydrogen bonds, and hydrophobicinteractions.”


Water Molecule Critical Micelle Concentration Point Charge Hydration Shell Polar Head 
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