Learning outcomes of the course unit
Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science, utilizing theories and methods of physical sciences to investigate biological systems at diverse level of organization: from the molecular scale, to whole organisms and ecosytems. Biophysics thus interacts with more specific fields such as biochemistry, nanotechnology, bio-enginery and the recent area of system biology. The course aims to provide a comprehensive view of biophysics, with in depth analysis of selected topics.
Course contents summary
A. Fundamentals of biology and structural levels in biosytems. In depth view of structural organization of biological macromolecules (nucleic acids, proteins,membranes, organelles).
B. Introduction to methods for determining secondary structures of proteins. Methods for the determinations of tridimensional structures and macromolecular complexes. UV/VIS, circular dichroism and IR spectroscopy. X-Ray difrraction, NMR and cryo-em in the determination of protein structures.
c. Physical chemistry: thermodynamics and thermodynamic function. Criteria for spontaneus reactions in biology. Chemical equilibria, reaction kinetics. Redox reactions, proton and electron transfer.
D. Function of biological macormolecules. Protein synthesis. Association, dissociation and assembly. Conformations and sub-conformations. Protein reactions: mechanisms, kinetics, thermodynamics. Cofactors and prostetic groups. Binding and cooperativity. Structural transitions, regulation and allostery. Enzyme kinetics.
E. Light and living systems. Light as energy and information. Chromophores and reactivities. Energy transfer at the molecular level. Light-driven ion pumps as primitive photosynthesis devices. Oxygenic and anoxygenic photosynthesis. Photosensory receptors.
F. Input-output: sensor proteins and biological responses. Proteins sensory systems: membrane receptors, two component systems, modular organization. Molecular mechanisms of signal-transduction: conformational changes, molecular transducers and seconds messengers. Examples taken from the three superkingdoms of Eukarya, Archaea, and Bacteria.
G. New-trends: the engineering of proteins as reporters and as switch on/off regulators of cellular functions. Optogenetics. Single molecules spectroscopies with superresolutions. Metagenomics vs. genomics.
Peter Bergethon, The physical basis of biochemistry, The foundation of Molecular Biophysics; 2nd edition, Springer 2010
Articles provided during lessons
Power point presentations
Assessment methods and criteria
Written exams (questions).
+ oral presentation with deep insight of a chosen topic