Biochemistry deals with the study of the complex and simple chemical processes that occur inside a human body, and the various biochemical elements involved in these processes. This branch of chemistry refers to the vital chemical mechanisms, which are underlying the routine physiological activities in our day-to-day life. Biochemistry is used to study the biochemical processes in plants, animals, microorganisms, as well as in human beings. Provided below are the basic concepts in this field.
- Earliest references to the field of biochemistry have been spotted approximately 400 years. Although the use of this term was seen in 1882, Carl Neuberg first proposed it in 1903.
- Some of the basic bio-molecules studied in this field are broadly categorized as small molecules, monomers, and polymers. Basically the smaller molecules can be conglomerated into monomers, which in turn if combined with other monomers can form polymers.
- Some of the basic biomolecules include lipids, phospholipids, glycolipids, sterols, vitamins, hormones, and carbohydrates. Lipids are fat-soluble that are important for energy storage, and are also essential as structural components of cell membranes. Lipids are divided into eight categories, which are fatty acyls, glycerolipids, sphingolipids, glycerophospholipids, saccharolipids, polyketides, sterol lipids, and prenol lipids. Vitamins are organic compounds that cannot be synthesized in adequate quantities by the organism, but have to be acquired from the diet. Vitamins have various biochemical functions that are of prime importance for the living organisms. Vitamins act as hormones, anti-oxidants, cell-signaling mediators, as well as regulating the cell and tissue related growth and differentiation.
- Hormones are chemicals that are signal carriers between cells cell via the blood stream. These messengers are classified as endocrine and exocrine hormones depending on the site of their secretion. The former are those that are secreted directly into the bloodstream, whereas the latter are secreted into a duct, from where they are transported to the target organ. Carbohydrates are nothing but the basic sugars or simple organic compounds, which are responsible for the storage and transport of energy, and also act as structural components.
- Enzymes are other vital biomolecules that are proteins, which act as catalysts in the various chemical reactions. Enzyme activity can be controlled by certain specific chemicals, which are categorized as enzyme activators that initiate and accelerate their activity, and the enzyme inhibitors that retard this activity.
- Monomers include various biomolecules like amino acids, nucleotides, phosphates, and monosaccharides. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Besides this, twenty standard amino acids are used by cells in protein biosynthesis. The amino acids are joined by a peptide bond during protein formation. Nucleotides are the structural units of RNA and DNA. A nitrogenous base, sugar, and the presence of one or more phosphate groups are the basic characteristics of nucleotides. The two major groups of nitrogenous bases include purines and pyrimidines. Phosphates are nothing but phosphoric acid salts, which are important biomolecules. The group of monomers also includes single sugars called monosaccharides, which cannot be broken down into simple sugars, and are generally colorless, crystalline, and water-soluble.