Cell Structure and Function: The Most Important Molecule

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Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the last of four Science Objects in the Cell Structure and Function SciPack. It explores protein molecules at a more in-depth level. The work of the cell is carried out by the many different types of molecules it assembles, mostly proteins. DNA is the blueprint that determines the order of amino acids for any given protein that differs somewhat with each species. Protein molecules are long, usually folded chains composed of combinations from 20 different kinds of amino acid molecules. The function of each protein depends on its specific sequence of amino acids and the shape the chain takes as a consequence of attractions between the chain's parts. The action of the proteins is catalyzed by a set of enzymes (also proteins). Some of the assembled molecules assist in replicating genetic information, repairing cell structures, helping other molecules to get in or out of the cell, and generally in catalyzing and regulating molecular interactions. In specialized cells, other protein molecules may carry oxygen, affect contraction, respond to outside stimuli, or provide material for hair, nails, and other body structures. In still other cells, assembled molecules may be exported to serve as hormones, antibodies, or digestive enzymes.

  • Elementary
  • Middle

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Reviews (9)
  • on Thu Sep 08, 2016 11:25 PM

The explanation of how proteins are made, including what enzymes are used when duplicating DNA was great! The animations and interactive videos were very helpful in my understanding of the entire process of making proteins.

Jessica H
Jessica H

  • on Fri Apr 03, 2015 11:34 AM

This science object reviews all the steps in the production process of the proteins necessary for life. There is a lot of information which may require multiple viewing of this object.

Robin Willig  (Rye Brook, NY)
Robin Willig (Rye Brook, NY)

  • on Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:14 AM

I really enjoy Science Objects. In 1-3 hours, the Cell Structure and Function: The Most Important Molecule Science Object will help me re-learn, refresh, or learn for the first time some critical science concepts I will have to know to obtain my Science Educator credentials. I appreciate that I can complete them at my own pace, and that, if used as park of a SciPack, I have access to a content expert to go to for help. The NSTA Learning Center Science Objects are really beneficial!

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:03 PM

Learning about the cell could never be as interesting.

Ronaldo Relador  (Bowie, MD)
Ronaldo Relador (Bowie, MD)

  • on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:21 PM

Very clear explanation of how proteins are made, role of enzymes, transcription and translation. Good animations, especially of how enzymes work and translation. i will use the animations with my students--they are better than what I have found on the web.

Harriet Smith
Harriet Smith

  • on Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:34 PM

This science object was a good overview of proteins and protein synthesis. There are animations and interactives on transcription, translation, and the roles of enzymes that I see using in my classroom.


  • on Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:34 PM

This series is well organized and explained. It covers enough details for upper level students and not too much for lower level students. The quiz answer check didn't always work and it wasn't clear which was the right answer for a few answer boxes.


  • on Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:00 PM

Good lesson on the basics of protiens and amino acids, how they are created and the role they play in the cell. Something I am glad I reviewed as I prep to take a certification exam.

Nathan T  (Pflugerville, TX)
Nathan T (Pflugerville, TX)

  • on Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:11 PM

This module has AWESOME interactive videos that I wish I could transport into a SmartBoard presentation. The students would grasp the concepts so much better!

Katie  (Painted Post, NY)
Katie (Painted Post, NY)

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