Patrice Koehl
Department of Computer Science
Genome Center
Room 4319, Genome Center, GBSF
451 East Health Sciences Drive
University of California
Davis, CA 95616
Phone: (530) 754 5121

Computational Structural Biology: Winter 2024


A biomolecule (also called a biological molecule) is a term used to describe molecules present in organisms that are essential to one or more typically biological processes, such as cell division, morphogenesis, or development. Biomolecules include large macromolecules (or polyanions) such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids, as well as small molecules such as primary metabolites, secondary metabolites and natural products. here we will look at nucleic acids and proteins.

Nucleic acids are essential to all known forms of life. They are composed of monomers, which are nucleotides. Those nucleotides are made of three components: a 5-carbon sugar, a phosphate group and a nitrogenous base. If the sugar is a simple ribose, the polymer is RNA (ribonucleic acid); if the sugar is derived from ribose as deoxyribose, the polymer is DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).

Nucleic acids are the most important of all biomolecules. They are found in abundance in all living things, where they function to create and encode and then store information in the nucleus of every living cell of every life-form organism on Earth. In turn, they function to transmit and express that information inside and outside the cell nucleus. The encoded information is contained and conveyed via the nucleic acid sequence, which provides the "ladder-step" ordering of nucleotides within the molecules of RNA and DNA.

While all bio-molecules play an important part in life, there is something special about proteins, which are the products of the information contained in the genes. A perhaps surprising finding that crystallized over the last handful of decades is that geometric reasoning plays a major role in our attempt to understand the activities of these molecules.

Lecture Notes

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Further Reading

  Page last modified 19 February 2024