In BIS2A, we will review the major functional groups found in biological molecules. Practice: All of the following are examples of functional groups in biology except: a) -CH 3. b) -COOH. These bonds are polar covalent, meaning the electron involved in forming the bonds is not shared equally between the C-O and O-H bonds. Concept #1: Functional Groups. The hydroxyl functional group shown here consists of an oxygen atom bound to a carbon atom and a hydrogen atom. Getting used to three-dimensional representations of biomolecules and interacting with these models can help you form more detailed mental models of what biomolecules look like and how they might interact in "real life". Phosphate groups are common in nucleic acids and on phospholipids (the term "phospho" referring to the phosphate group on the lipid). Functional groups can sometimes have polar or nonpolar properties depending on their atomic composition and organization. Figure 3. These groups play an important role in the formation of molecules like DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. D is a phospholipid. A phosphate group consists of a phosphorus atom bonded to four oxygen atom. Some organisms are comprised of only one cell whereas others have many cells that are organized into tissues, organs, and systems. In a nonpolar bond or molecule, electrons and charge will be relatively evenly distributed. These include: hydroxyl, methyl, carbonyl, carboxyl, amino, sulfanyl, and phosphate (see Figure 1). F A C E B Correct Of the choices, this is the only one that contains phosphorus. The oxygen atom is much more electronegative than either the hydrogen or the carbon, which will cause the electrons in the covalent bonds to spend more time around the oxygen than around the C or H. Therefore, the O-H and O-C bonds in the hydroxyl group will be polar covalent bonds. To understand what kinds of chemical reactions biological molecules can do, you have to understand the chemical behavior of the functional groups on the surface of the molecule. Progress. The functional groups shown here are found in many different biological molecules. This will come in handy when considering the various interactions between cells and structures. One bond is a double bond. A functional group is a specific group of atoms within a molecule that is responsible for a characteristic of that molecule. The LibreTexts libraries are Powered by MindTouch® and are supported by the Department of Education Open Textbook Pilot Project, the UC Davis Office of the Provost, the UC Davis Library, the California State University Affordable Learning Solutions Program, and Merlot. In a polar bond or molecule, electrons will concentrate in some areas than others. Sometimes, the compound can have a methyl group but still be a polar compound overall because of the presence of other functional groups with polar properties (see the discussion on polar functional groups below). Hydroxyl groups are very common in biological molecules. A phosphate group is a phosphorus atom covalently bound to four oxygen atoms and contains one P=O bond and three P-O− bonds.

In its protonated state, it can form hydrogen bonds with other polar compounds. Phosphates make the molecule of which it is a part of an anion. When protonated, the nitrogen atom is bound to three hydrogen atoms and has a positive charge. We also acknowledge previous National Science Foundation support under grant numbers 1246120, 1525057, and 1413739. This means that methyl groups cannot form hydrogen bonds and will not interact with polar compounds such as water. This field deals with the cell structure and function in detail. In biological molecules, the carbon skeleton determines their general 3D shape. Functional group– a group of atoms within a molecule that interacts in predictable ways with other molecules. Among the polar functional groups is the carboxyl group found in amino acids, some amino acid side chains, and the fatty acids that form triglycerides and phospholipids. Phosphate groups transfer energy between organic molecules. These are known as FUNCTIONAL GROUPS. Legal. It is not intended to provide medical, legal, or any other professional advice. The human respiratory system is an efficient system of inspiring and expiring respiratory gases. Example #1: Functional Groups Example 1. This tutorial will help you understand the chemical composition of the body. Functional Groups Part A Which one of these is an amino group? A functional group is, if you like, what gives a molecule its 'character'. Watch the recordings here on Youtube! This course is designed for advanced High School Students (AP Biology) and first and second-year college students. The amino group consists of a nitrogen atom attached by single bonds to hydrogen atoms. Figure 1. "R" represents any other atom or extension of the molecule. Two of the oxygen atoms have a negative charge. Figure 2. The deprotonated form of this group is neutral. Many biologically active molecules contain one or more functional groups. Any information here should not be considered absolutely correct, complete, and up-to-date. For example, look at an amino acid. Have questions or comments? The amino acid isoleucine is on the left, and cholesterol is on the right. An example of a nonpolar group is the methane molecule (see discussion in Bond Types Chapter for more detail). A functional group is a specific group of atoms within a molecule responsible for a characteristic of that molecule. A functional group may take part in a variety of chemical reactions. In this tutorial, you will also know the common metabolic pathways of biomolecules, such as glucose and other carbohydrates, fats, proteins and amino acids, and essential nutrients... Neurons generate electric signals that they pass along to the other neurons or target tissues. Get to know how proteins are able to perform as enzymes, cofactors, or regulators. Functional groups are what make molecules do what they do. This will have several biological consequences that will be explored more when we discuss enzymes. The carboxyl group can ionize, which means it can act as an acid and release the hydrogen atom from the hydroxyl group as a free proton (H+). This results in a delocalized negative charge on the remaining oxygen atoms. In this tutorial, you will find the basic structure of a neuron, the different classes of neurons, and membrane potentials. The scientific study of the cell is called cell biology. Unless otherwise noted, LibreTexts content is licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 3.0. Can you identify all the carboxyl groups on the macromolecules shown above in Figure 5? In the common rule of thumb "like dissolves like", it is the shared or mutually well-interacting functional groups … Amino groups can also act as bases, which means that the nitrogen atom can bond to a fourth hydrogen atom, as shown in Figure 6. Attribution: created by Marc T. Facciotti (own work). In this course, we will explore topics in Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Viruses, Evolution, Bacteria and Archaea, Protists, Plants (Botany), Fungi, Animals (Zoology), Anatomy & Physiology,Reproduction, Development, Animal Behavior, and Ecology. Attribution: Marc T. Facciotti (own work adapted from previous image of unknown source). Like oxygen, nitrogen is also more electronegative than both carbon and hydrogen, which results in the amino group displaying some polar character. Figure 7. A variety of biologically relevant compounds contain methyl groups like those highlighted above. For more information contact us at or check out our status page at

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