Cell Building Blocks

The cell is the basic unit of life. All organisms are composed of one or more cells. As will be discussed later, humans are made up of many millions of cells. In order to understand what goes wrong in cancer, it is important to understand how normal cells work. The first step is to discuss the structure and basic functions of cells.

First we will introduce the common building blocks of cells. All cells, regardless of their function or location in the body, share common features and processes. Amazingly, cells are comprised almost entirely of just four basic types of molecules. Shown below is a cell surrounded by examples of these building block molecules.

Since they are present in living things these building blocks are called biomolecules. The next sections describe the structures and functions of each of these basic building blocks.

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Lipids
  • Nucleic Acids
  • Combinations

Click here to view a summary of The Building Blocks section.

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